How it works

Salt, sand, traction control. What we do and when we do it.

Our snow and ice control program is designed to keep roads drivable and safe throughout the year. Public Works constantly monitors roads with dynamic weather conditions and fluctuating temperatures in mind.

We apply traction control before, during and after weather events and will respond to requests for treatment on a priority basis.

When do we salt and sand?

Sanding is ongoing throughout the winter. When and where we sand depends on the road conditions and the weather.

Purple routes (hills and bridges) are pre-treated before a snow fall event. We use different types of traction control measures depending on the temperature. In temperatures of -15oC or warmer, sand is mixed with salt brine to provide traction control. In -15oC and colder the sand is mixed with Road Guard before being spread on the road surface.

Like plowing, sanding priorities are based on the use and traffic volume on our streets. After frost, freezing rain or snow, we sand purple routes (hills, bridges, overpasses, high hazard locations and hospital accesses) and red routes (arterials) first. Finally, Green and Orange Routes are sanded.

Sidewalk clearing and sanding

Parks and Public Works staff clears more than 129 km of sidewalks throughout the city within three days after each snowfall event. Generally, sidewalks are cleared as follows:

  • Purple and Red Routes: The City will clear both sides of the street for any sidewalk adjacent to City property measuring more than 10 meters.
  • Green Routes: To ensure connectivity on both sides of the street, The City will clear sidewalks adjacent to City property measuring more than 10 meters. Sidewalks that are adjacent to residential property are the responsibility of the property owners to clear.
  • Grey and Orange Routes: To ensure connectivity on at least one side of the street, property owners are responsible for clearing the sidewalk adjacent to their property. The City does not clear sidewalks on Grey and Orange routes. If there is a green space or park on a grey or orange route with no homes or businesses adjacent to it, the sidewalk on that side of the street will not be cleared.  

Sidewalk clearing is a shared responsibility:

  • Property owners are responsible to ensure sidewalks on their property, which are adjacent to the roadway, are cleared within 48 hours of snowfall.
  • Schools are required to clear sidewalks adjacent to school owned property. 

Please refer to the Sidewalk Clearing Map (pdf) for a visual of sidewalk clearing responsibility. Residents and business owners can pick up free sand for use on sidewalks in front of their property. The sandbox is located outside of the Civic Yards facility at 7721, 40 Avenue, north of the main front entrance gate. Remember to bring your own sand pail and shovel.

Trail Clearing

Parks staff clear nearly 36 km of trails during the winter season. Please refer to the Trails Snow Clearing map (pdf) for specifics on which trails have been selected for clearing.

When these trails are cleared, staff will continue to monitor and provide traction control as required.

Transit Stops

We aim to clear snow from transit stops within 10 days of snowfall. We have three priority levels ranging from priority one stops that service many riders and routes to the lesser-used priority three stops. 

Community Mailboxes

Canada Post clears snow in front of community mailbox. Visit their website to submit an online request to have an area cleared.

In the event of exceptional snowfall events, operations adjustments may need to be made and routes may need to be prioritized.

Learn more about our Snow and Ice Control Program.