Largest Toronto snow removal happening since 2010, city says

After so much snow in Toronto this winter — and more coming down this weekend — the city is hauling it off the streets on the largest scale in nearly a decade.

City hauling snow into storage during 'challenging' Toronto winter

Over the next five to seven days, crews will be working 24 hours a day to remove snow from the streets and into storage facilities, the city says. (CBC)

After so much snow in Toronto this winter — and more coming down this weekend — the city is hauling it off the streets on the largest scale in nearly a decade.

"This has been a challenging winter for us," said Mark Mills, superintendent of road operations.

"We've received a year's worth of snow in the last six weeks."

After Wednesday's storm, staff found that emergency vehicles could not get down the roads safely, Mills said. That prompted the current snow removal operation, he said, in which crews will be removing road-blocking snow from local and arterial streets.

Several crews will be working 24 hours a day over the next five to seven days, blowing snow and ice into trucks and moving it to one of the city's five storage facilities, he said.

This is the first time the city has removed snow on this scale and coordination since 2010, said Toronto city spokesperson Eric Holmes. 

More recently, staff have done snow removal at strategic and isolated locations, he noted.

Mills could not say how much this snow removal operation would cost yet, but expects it may be "in the millions."

The city's 2019 winter budget is about $87 million he said, and they spent $15 million of that as of Wednesday.

'Way above average'

Snowfall has been "way above average" this season, said Mills. 

Wednesday's storm brought another 17 to 24 cm of snow, Mills said, and they don't expect a thaw until mid-March.

The snow removal started Friday night, and will last five to seven days, he said.

"The goal is to get one side of the street cleared off," he said.

Mark Mills, superintendent road operations, says it's been a 'challenging' winter in Toronto. (CBC)

Expect overnight noise

Mills said people should be prepared for possible noise overnight as crews work on local roads.

"It's a necessary evil to get this snow off the road," he said, as he reminded residents and property owners to clear snow off their sidewalk.

The city said it may do "friendly towing" to a nearby location to make room for equipment. 

Signs will be posted in advance for streets where snow removal is happening, the city says.

Toronto got about 128 cm of snowfall from November to February, and 107.1 cm in January and February, said the city, citing Environment Canada data.

"The 20-year average for annual snowfall in Toronto is about 105 cm," the city said.

With files from Haweya Fadal