The City of Toronto is ready for the snow that's coming in what looks like a harsher winter compared to last year, the chair of the public works and infrastructure committee said Wednesday.
"Last year we got a bit of a break. It was a mild winter. I am not so sure we will be that lucky this year," Coun. Jaye Robinson said.
"They are forecasting a classic Canadian winter — cold and snowy. But one thing I do know is that Toronto is ready for whatever winter has to throw at us," she said.
The city is setting aside $94 million for snow operations. That includes:
- 600 snowplows.
- 300 sidewalk plows.
- 200 salt trucks.
Last year, the city upgraded its equipment, including state-of-the art salters and plows with GPS and electronic controls to better manage the amount and application of salt, which Robinson said is "better for the roads and better for the environment."
The city expects that the same equipment can be used for different activities, which will result in more savings overall.
A new Plow TO website will show real-time updates of the locations of salters and plows. The tool will go live on Dec. 1.
When the snow does begin to fall, the fleet will begin plowing the expressways when two centimetres of snow has landed. The main roads will get plowed after five centimetres, and the plows will hit local roads after eight centimetres.
'Be nice, clear your ice,' says councillor
Robinson reminded residents to be patient, because it does take about 14 to 16 hours after a big storm to get to the local roads. And residents also need to do their part.
In the central core of the city, property owners are required to clear their sidewalks of snow within 12 hours after a storm. If they don't do this, there is a $125 fine.
"The bottom line is we're asking everyone to be a good neighbour, especially for our more vulnerable residents, including seniors and people with accessibility concerns. Everyone knows the old adage: 'be nice, clear your ice,'" Robinson said.
The city plans to spend $146 million on improving the city's watermain system. So far, there have been 812 watermain breaks this year, compared to more than 1,600 last year.
The biggest cause of these breaks is cold and frozen ground, according to Bill Shea, the director of operations at Toronto Water.
"When the ground freezes, it expands and it shifts our pipes and they crack, so the majority of the breaks happen in the wintertime," Shea said.
On average, it takes crews eight to 12 hours to repair a broken watermain.
The city has committed $1.76 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade its watermain distribution system.
"By the time we've gone through replacement, we're ready to do it all again ... it's an ongoing thing," Shea said.
But the city is offering tips to help residents prevent their own pipes from freezing. You can insulate them, seal air leaks around windows and doors, disconnect hoses and drain the outdoor water supply.