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Winter arrives early in Toronto but the city says it is ready

A snow plow in the GTA on Nov. 12, 2019. CITYNEWS/Bert Dandy

City of Toronto officials say they are ready for what ‘Old Man Winter’ has in store this season. And if the early start to winter is any indication, the city will take all the resources it has to help keep city streets clean and its residents safe.

Coun. James Pasternak made the announcement about the city’s winter preparedness efforts Wednesday morning at the salting plant on Wellington Street.

He said staff have reviewed last year’s snow removal and made recommendations to improve services this year. He said residents and the city have to work together to ensure everything goes smoothly.

“When the snow and winter come, it presents major challenges for many in the city,” Pasternak said.

“Snow clearing represents a vital city service that we constantly review so that residents — notably seniors — can go about their daily lives and routine with as little risk or impediments as possible.”

This year, the city is launching a new testing program of smaller, sidewalk clearing plows for areas of Toronto that it is currently not servicing. In a release, the government officials said “staff will also undertake the development of an inventory of sidewalk conditions and encroachments.”

In addition, the city said monitoring underground water pipes and watermain breaks are also priorities. This is why the city has committed to spend almost $2 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade its watermain distribution system.

To assist the public, a new service has been launched called the No Water Map —  a live map where important water maintenance information can be obtained about watermain breaks, water service disruptions and repair timelines.

The city has a fleet of more than 1,100 snow clearing vehicles as well as more than 1,500 personnel (contracted and government staffed) on standby 24 hours a day and seven days a week ready to respond to snow at a moment’s notice.

Salt trucks are the first line of defence when snow begins to fall. Plows are sent out as snow accumulates to between 2.5 and five centimetres on expressways and major roads.

Toronto budgets about $90 million annually to help keep roads and sidewalks safe and passable during winter.

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