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Snow and Ice Control FAQ

City snow and ice control services

What is The City’s role in snow and ice control on roads?

The City maintains Calgary roads year round, with the exception of Deerfoot and Stoney Trails, which are managed by the province.

In the winter, our maintenance work includes pre-treating high-priority traffic corridors and known trouble spots with anti-icing materials prior to a forecast snowfall. After a snowfall ends, we follow a Seven-Day Snow Plan to plow roads, on-street bike lanes and cycle tracks, pathways, playground zones, bus routes and other high traffic areas in priority order.

Does The City plow residential streets?

Work in residential side streets includes packing down soft spots, levelling out ruts and sanding-salting icy driving lanes when necessary. Unlike Calgary’s high-volume roads, we do not plow down to bare pavement, plow entire street widths, from curb to curb, or remove snow in residential areas.

Please be aware, plowing activity in residential areas can create windrows. Note that certain narrower residential streets may not be wide enough for some of The City’s larger pieces of equipment.

 

Are back lanes plowed?

No, back lanes are not part of our snow and ice control services. However, if you think a back lane has become a public safety concern, please report online to 311.

Does The City clear snow from pathways, bike routes and sidewalks?

Yes, there are designated sections of pathways and sidewalks that we clear, as well as on-street bike routes and downtown cycle tracks.

See the Pathways, Bikeways and Walkways map – Snow Clearing for location details. The City’s timeline for clearing snow varies; see the Seven-Day Snow Plan for schedule and scope details.

Sidewalk snow clearing is a responsibility we share with private property owners/occupants. For our part, we clear walkways along major roads and parks, pedestrian overpasses, and bus pads and LRT platforms. In general, we’re responsible for the sidewalks within and bordering City-owned property.

What is the budget for Snow and Ice Control?

The annual budget for snow and ice control on roadways is approximately $41 million. This budget covers the period between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.

Residential snow and ice control

Sidewalks

Living in a winter city means everyone has to pitch in when it snows. A City bylaw requires property owners to clear the sidewalks that border their property within 24 hours of snowfall ending. It's also important to manage ice on sidewalks, which can easily build up with Calgary's frequent freeze-thaw cycles.

To help you keep your sidewalks clear of snow and ice, The City offers a free, limited supply of a sand (for traction) and salt (for melting) mixture to property owners (no contractors, please). Find out where you can pick up free sand-salt and what restrictions apply.

Please note that compliance with the snow and ice control bylaw is mandatory. Property owners who fail to clear their sidewalks are subject to a minimum $150 charge plus a fine. This fine structure was implemented as part of Council's commitment to improve pedestrian mobility during winter 2018-19.

For more information, visit the snow bylaw page.

Windrows

Windrows are the trails of snow left behind by a snowplow. Clearing windrows in front of your property, as needed to access parking, is also your responsibility.

Snow angels

Anyone able is encouraged to be a Snow Angel for a neighbour who's away or has difficulty shoveling.​

Contracted snow removal

Contractors who haul away shoveled snow must have privately-owned space to store it. The City does not provide public land for snow storage. Dumping snow in the Bow and Elbow Rivers is not permitted due to contamination risks.

Snow control equipment, manpower and anti-icing materials

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

During winter, crews work shifts to ensure The City of Calgary has coverage to respond to the snow 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All available staffed equipment is deployed during the winter snow events, and additional contracted crews can be called for bigger snow events.

The City snow fleet includes 27 graders, 74 tandem trucks with under-body plows, 18 tandem trucks with front plows, and six snow blowers.

How does The City decide when to use salt, sand or a mix of both (pickle) on winter roads?

The decision is based on road surface temperatures and weather conditions:

  • When road surfaces are below -5 C and expected to fall, we use a salt-sand mixture called pickle (3 per cent salt, 97 per cent fine gravel). The sand improves vehicle traction while the salt helps melt accumulated snow and ice as it warms up.
  • When road surface temperatures are between 0 and -10 C and not expected to change, The City uses salt to melt accumulated snow and ice.
  • When it's extremely cold, we use sand only for vehicle traction as salt is ineffective in temperatures below -10 C.

Our sanding trucks are all equipped with automatic controls to spread the right material for the current road conditions.

What about beet brine?

The City piloted a new anti-icing material that is a mixture of beet juice and salt brine. Beet brine contains an organic compound that is less corrosive than road salt. Currently, The City still has an inventory of this material and will continue its trial in certain areas of the downtown core.

Does The City put up snow fences?

Yes, in known trouble areas where winds frequently cause snow drifting onto residential roads and back lanes that otherwise aren’t plowed.

Snow Route parking bans

See the Snow Route parking ban FAQ page.

Sign-up to receive text or email notifications when a snow route parking ban will be in effect and when it’s been lifted.

Snow and ice condition updates

What is the Road Conditions Map?

The Road Conditions Map shows the locations of snow plows and sanding trucks. It tells you which roads are maintained and which routes have been already cleared. The map also shows where traffic cameras are located, which you can click on for a live view of current traffic flows and road condition at that location.

Where can I find out about snow conditions on pathways, bikeways and sidewalks?

The Pathways, Bikeways and Walkways map – Snow Clearing displays the areas cleared by The City. Together, The City’s snow clearing efforts are designed to support walking, cycling and people who rely on wheelchairs for mobility throughout winter. They include:

  • Sidewalks and other walkways within or bordering City property
  • Bikeways – cycle tracks and on-street bike lanes
  • Pathways designated for snow clearing
  • Wheelchair curb cuts
  • Bus pads – includes LRT stations
  • Traffic islands and medians

 

How do I find out if the snow has affected transit services?

Calgary Transit offers several ways for you to receive updates on weather-related disruptions, service changes and detours, and when emergencies affect service schedules. Check the information on the transit service updates page, sign up for Email Alerts or follow Calgary Transit on Twitter.

What other snow related information does The City provide?

During and after a snowfall, we post snow and ice clearing updates twice daily online and on Twitter. These posts will tell you where we are in our seven-day snow plan and what the overall conditions are for getting around in the city.

Visit calgary.ca/snow for links to more information that will help you get around safely this winter.​

 

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