Halifax snow policy sets clear priorities, deadlines for clearing roads

From pre-storm brining and salting to road "cut throughs," here are the details of Halifax's snow removal guidelines.

Halifax residents can refer to a snow clearing chart to determine when their street should be plowed

Snow plows begin clearing residential side streets within six hours after snowfall ends, according to Halifax's snow removal policy. (Jennifer Henderson/CBC)

Halifax's latest snow removal plan is about to get a good workout. 

From pre-storm salting and brining to deadlines for clearing residential streets, the plan includes a plethora of service standards.

And calls to the municipality's 311 number as well as to municipal councillors will reflect how satisfied residents are with this year's snow removal operations.

On Monday, city crews were busy applying a barrier of salt and brine to streets and roads to prevent ice from forming, spokeswoman Jennifer Stairs said.

This is now the practice before any major storm to keep ice and snow from building up and creating long-term treacherous conditions such as those that developed last year.

"We try to apply brine on all of the streets, we would start with the main arterial routes first and work our way out into the residential side streets," Stairs said. "People will see white crystallized salt water on the road, that will help prevent a bond between the snow and the road."

When snow starts to accumulate, Priority 1 streets are plowed in three-hour intervals. Priority 1 includes main roads such as Robie Street, Portland Street and Sackville Drive, areas around hospitals and bus routes, Stairs said.

Residential street clearing

Residential streets are Priority 2. After six hours, plows will do a "cut through" on those streets

"We go and do a first cut through, which is essentially where we plow up the middle of the road, again to allow some initial access and the equipment will return later to finish the job, to widen the street to two-lane traffic," Stairs said.

Halifax residents can refer to a storm clearing chart to determine when their street should be plowed.

Sometimes residents misunderstand the strategy and assume the one cut-through pass is all the plowing that will be done.

"They don't realize it is going to come back later. That is an important point that we try to get out and do that first cut through on all those streets within six hours at the end of the snowfall," Stairs said.

"Don't worry, we will be back to finish it within the timeline — residential streets are typically done within 24 hours." 

The clock starts to tick as soon as the snowstorm is over all areas of the municipality.

Sidewalk priorities

Clearing sidewalks begins in downtown Halifax soon after snow begins falls, later in residential neighbourhoods, after about 10-15 centimetres of accumulation. (Catharine Tunney/CBC)

Halifax has established three different levels of priorities for clearing snow from sidewalks.

The main focus again is on Priority 1 sidewalks along main, arterial roads. Priority 2 sidewalks are along transit routes and timelines vary depending on whether the bus route is busy, Stairs said. Priority 3 sidewalks are in residential areas and municipal walkways.

"Sidewalk clearing, in the downtown core, pretty much happens as the snow starts to fall, you'll see that equipment out sooner. When you get out more in the residential areas, they wait until 10-15 centimetres accumulation, they wait a little bit longer to send that gear out," Stairs said.

A parking ban will be in effect on city streets between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. Tuesday. However, parked vehicles can be ticketed or towed at any time if they obstruct snow clearing.


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