Bracing for snow, Toronto ready to spend $90M on winter operations

Here's what the city's doing to get ready to tackle all the snow, ice and slush coming our way.

This January will see the debut of Gardiner Expressway off-ramp that de-ices itself

The city says their first priority during a snowfall is to keep the main roads clear for emergency and TTC vehicles. (John Rieti/CBC)

Toronto hasn't seen a major snowfall this season yet — but when it does, the city says they're ready to tackle it.

"We all know what an impact snow has on our city," councillor Jaye Robinson, Chair of the City's Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, said. "Our main focus again this year is to keep the main roads clear for TTC and emergency vehicles, as well as keeping people moving safely and effectively on our roads."

After that, crews move on to the local roads, usually completing the clearing of those roads between 14 and 16 hours after the storm ends. The city is reminding the public to wait until the snowfall is finished before requesting clearing operations.

The cold weather can also cause an increase in water main breaks. The city said their staff is ready to respond to service calls 24 hours a day.

The numbers

According to the city:

  • $90 million is committed to this year's winter operations.
  • The city's equipment totals 1102 plows and trucks.
  • 1500 personnel are on standby to mobilize the equipment when a storm hits.
  • The city is currently replacing and fixing 172 kilometres of water main pipes.
  •  There are about 200 smaller pickups and dump trucks to help keep the roads and sidewalks safe.

New technology

The city said residents are encouraged to use the PlowTO app to track where road clearing operations are happening across the city.

Robinson added that in January 2018, when the new off-ramp from the eastbound Gardiner Expressway to Lower Simcoe Street opens, it will use the first ever automated de-icing system that allows staff to simply hit a button from a remote location to fully de-ice the ramp.

"This will be the first time the technology is embedded in the infrastructure," Robinson said.

When that first snowfall does hit, residents can help assist with snow clearing by not pushing snow back onto the road,  avoiding parking on city streets and by taking public transit instead of driving.