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Snow and Ice Control FAQ

  1. What is The City's Snow and Ice Control program?
  2. When there is a snow storm, which roads will be cleared first?
  3. Are residential streets plowed?
  4. What is The City’s extreme snow event plan?
  5. Are cycle tracks and on-street, marked bike routes cleared of snow?
  6. What does The City do to get ready for a forecasted snow event?
  7. How many plows and sanders will be on the roads during a snow event?
  8. What are Epoke brand sanders?
  9. Will echelon (tandem) plowing happen during rush hour?
  10. How does The City decide to apply salt or sanding chips on winter roads?
  11. What is the Road Conditions Map?
  12. If The City has over 120 plows and sanders, why are there less indicated on the Road Conditions Map during a major snowstorm?
  13. What is The City’s Bare pavement policy?
  14. Does The City install snow fencing?
  15. What is the Snow Route parking ban?
  16. How can residents prepare for a snow storm?
  17. How can citizens help to make roads safer in the winter?
  18. What are homeowners/occupants responsible for in terms of snow clearing?
  19. How does The City provide snow and ice control on Calgary’s sidewalks?
  20. What is the Snow Angels campaign?

1. What is The City's Snow and Ice Control program?

Roads has a pre-planned, measured response to snowfall that helps make roads safe. It’s called Snow and Ice Control (SNIC).

We maintain roads during winter months by:

Roads is responsible for clearing snow and ice from public roadways and LRT stations. Parks is responsible for the pathway system.

2. When there is a snow storm, which roads will be cleared first?

Roads are cleared based on a Council-approved priority system. The more traffic there is on a road, the higher the priority. The highest priority roads are classified as Priority 1s. The lowest are Priority 4s. For more information, see the SNIC sanding plowing priorities.

3. Are residential streets plowed?

Yes. In 2011, Council voted to include residential streets in its snow clearing efforts. Under the policy, truck plows will knock down snow ruts on residential roads to 12cm, but not always to bare pavement. Graders are only used in the more severe conditions.

4. What is The City’s extreme snow event plan?

During December 2013 Calgary received record breaking accumulations of snow caused by consecutive snowfalls and prolonged extremely cold temperatures. These consecutive snowfalls made it challenging for City crews to clear residential roadways within the structure of the Seven Day Snow Event Plan. In an effort to fix this issue Roads Maintenance developed an extreme snow event plan that will allow The City of to have more eyes on the road to monitor snow accumulations in residential areas. The City has also taken on an “on-demand” contractor that will be available during periods of consecutive snowfalls to clear residential areas before City crews would be able to according to the Seven Day Snow Event Plan. This will give crews the ability to provide relief in residential areas while simultaneously maintaining and clearing Priority 1 and 2 routes.

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5. Are cycle tracks and on-street, marked bike routes cleared of snow?

Yes, many bike lanes happen to be on busy roadways that carry transit vehicles and high volumes of motorists. For these reasons these streets are Priority 1 for snow clearance. This means that these streets will be cleared 24 hours after the snow stops and will receive continuous ploughing and salting/sanding until bare pavement is achieved. All other on-street, marked bike routes will be considered a Priority 2 for snow clearance, per Council direction. This means that these streets will be cleared 48 hours after the snow stops and will receive continuous ploughing salting/sanding until bare pavement is achieved.

6. What does The City do to get ready for a forecasted snow event?

Roads has crews (roughly 450 field operations’ staff and foremen) available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist with snow and ice removal from city streets. When snow is predicted, an anti-icing solution is applied to designated roads around the city. This helps prevent ice and snow from building up on the road during a snowfall.

7. How many plows and sanders will be on the roads during a snow event?

It varies from storm to storm. Depending on forecasted weather, temperatures, expected amount of snow and the time that the storm occurs, The City will respond with the appropriate amount of manpower and equipment City forces include 27 graders, 74 tandem trucks with under body plows, 18 tandem trucks with front plows, and 6 snow blowers. Roads responds to each snow storm with the right material at the right time. During large snow events, every piece of available equipment is in use.

8. What are Epoke brand sanders?

 

Epoke sander
Epoke sanding truck
In 2011, as a trial, The City leased 15 Epoke sanders. The Epoke sanders are equipped with GPS automated spreading technology, which evenly distributes material on to the roads up to four lanes wide.

 

Due to the success of the trial more than half of our fleet have been converted to these new sanders. The Epoke sanders have shown to reduce the amount of material used as well as increase overall snow and ice control efficiency.

Please note: For safety reasons, please avoid passing sanders, graders and plows while in operation and leave at least  three car lengths  between your vehicle and the equipment.

9. Will echelon (tandem) plowing happen during rush hour?

 

Echelon plowing
Echelon / tandem plowing
Yes, Echelon plowing is the practice of staggered snow plows operating across all lanes of a roadway in one direction. It is the safest and most efficient snow removal method for multi-lane roads. Plowing in echelon clears all lanes at once by passing a ridge of snow from one plow to the next. If the time of the storm happens to coincide with rush hour, echelon plowing will still be used as a tactic. 

10. How does The City decide to apply salt or sanding chips on winter roads?

The decision to use salt or sanding chips depends on road surface temperatures and weather conditions.

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11. What is the Road Conditions Map?

The Road Conditions Map shows the locations of snow plows and sanding trucks. It provides real-time updates on cleared and maintained snow routes and shows traffic camera location images.

12. If The City has over 120 plows, graders and sanders, why are there less indicated on the Road Conditions Map during a major snowstorm?

Not all plows are outfitted with GPS technology. Plows displayed on the map will differ from what's actually out on the roads. Even if you don’t see a plow icon in your area it is likely that those roads are being plowed and sanded. The map will be updated  once the road is cleared, When plows have completed their work or is in transit (i.e. blade up, not dispensing materials) it will not show up on the map.

13. What is The City’s Bare Pavement policy?

The City’s Bare Pavement policy directs that all Priority 1 and Priority 2 streets be plowed down to the bare pavement following a major snow fall. While The City has plowed down to bare pavement on Priority 1 and 2 streets for many years, it was not officially put into our Snow and Ice Control Policy until 2011.

14. Does The City install snow fencing?

Yes. In 2010, The City installed approximately six kilometres of snow fencing in identified problem areas. Regular monitoring of these areas showed that they were very effective in preventing drifting on residential roads and back lanes. As a result, the snow fence program has been expanded to 26 kilometres for the 2013/2014 snow and ice control season.

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15. What is the Snow Route parking ban?

This winter, temporary parking restrictions will be in effect for 72 hours following a snow event on specific Snow Routes throughout Calgary. Snow Routes are located on priority 1 and 2 routes and include most major roads and bus routes.

16. How can residents prepare for a snow storm?

Drivers should pre-plan their commutes during snow storms by listening to or watching the news or visiting the Road Conditions Map to see what roads have been cleared and which ones are in progress.

17. How can citizens help to make roads safer in the winter?

Check out these  Winter Driving Tips and make your trip across town safer this winter.

18. What are homeowners/occupants responsible for in terms of snow clearing?

For sidewalks adjacent to private property, home owners, occupants, and businesses are required to help keep sidewalks safe for pedestrians by removing snow or ice that accumulates within 24 hours after the snowfall.

A snow windrow is a pile of snow that accumulates at the end of driveways and on the sides of streets during plowing by a truck or grader. It is the responsibility of the home owner to remove their own driveway windrows.

19. How does The City provide snow and ice control on Calgary’s sidewalks?

Using a Council-approved priority system, City crews sand, salt and clear snow and ice from about 200 km of sidewalk.

This includes snow clearing and/or sanding of Olympic Plaza, Stephen Avenue Mall and Barclay Mall, as well as overpasses and steps. It also includes snow clearing and/or sanding of sidewalks and wheelchair ramps adjacent to major roads, collector roads, and bus routes, where sidewalks are not next to private property.

20. What is the Snow Angels campaign?

Snow Angels encourages Calgarians to be a good neighbour. We ask that you remember your neighbours, especially older adults, when shovelling snow.

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