Winter is coming but is the city prepared for what lies ahead?

Major issues with the city's winter operations in recent years have raised questions about how prepared it is this season. Mark McAllister reports.

With Torontonians waking up to light snow on Thursday morning, there are lingering questions about the City’s preparedness for the winter ahead with problems plaguing operations the last couple of years. So what can we expect when more white stuff starts to hit our roads and sidewalks?

“We have a comprehensive plan for removal of snow and we are ready to go,” said Deputy Mayor and Councillor Jennifer McKelvie, who says all 1,400 pieces of equipment across the city are ready to be activated as soon as the snow arrives.

“City staff have been planning year-round for snow operations, and they monitor the weather closely and as soon as the forecast is projected that will hit the thresholds, they get ready and they activate the command centres.”

The city usually adds a liquid brine to the roads before the snow falls and then begins to salt when it begins to snow. Plows are not activated until there are at least 2.5 centimetres of snow on expressways, five centimetres on major roads and transit routes and eight centimetres on residential streets.

But the city has stumbled in recent years, first with the massive storm that hit in Jan. 2022. Then, over the course of last year, a storm of complaints when it came to snow removal as the winter clearing operations ran $26 million over budget.

“City staff are developing an extreme weather response plan and they will be piloting and testing that out this year so that we can be ready for those bigger storms because we know that under climate change, we are going to have those bigger storms on a more frequent basis going forward,” explained McKelvie.

The city does have its real-time PlowTO map on its website to help find out when roads have been salted and plowed with GPS sensors on board all the trucks.

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