Snow Clearing

The classification of your road is based on standards set out by the Province of Ontario in the Municipal Act.  There are four road types; Major arterial (King St, Columbia St, etc), Major collectors/bus routes (Regina, Bearinger, etc), Residential streets (Westvale, Northlake, etc) and Cul-de-sac/minor residential (Hillside, Beckwith, etc).  The classification of your road determines the length of time before the City will clear your street.  It can be anywhere from 6-24hrs AFTER a snowfall before a plow will clear the street.  More information on this can be found here:

After the snow accumulation has ended, we are required to reduce the snow accumulation to between 2.5 and 10cm depending on the classification of the road.  Therefore, if you live on a minor residential road the City will clear your road to 10cm or less within 24hrs or less AFTER a snowfall has been completed.  Performing these requirements throughout the City is a monumental task, which requires significant coordination.  The City does an excellent job of meeting or exceeding the standard for the most part throughout the season, however there are certainly times where heavy snowfall and additional inclement weather conditions make meeting these requirements a major challenge.

In particular, there are additional challenges facing the West end of the City.

  1. The West end of Waterloo gets more snow than most anywhere else in the City. This is for a combination of reasons, not the least of which is that we have very low density (making it slightly colder) and higher elevation (making the snow fall slightly faster).
  2. Vista Hills in particular gets heavy blowing snow from the Wilmot Line, requiring plows to come through on multiple occasions in order to meet the standards set out by the province.
  3. Our service centre for Waterloo is located in the East end of the City (Lexington, visible from the highway). This increases the time it takes to replenish supplies (such as salt).

Waterloo has a robust GPS system that we utilize to track every plow and road in the City.  As such we can track when a plow has been on your street.  This week for example (week of February 11th, 2019), some minor residential streets had plows on them on three occasions within two days, just to meet our minimum standards.

I will state that unequivocally Waterloo is doing our level best to not only meet the standards set out by the province, but to exceed them whenever possible.  There is definitely an awareness to the unique challenges associated with the West end, which does lead to a greater level of attentiveness and more activity with respect to plows.  We do not always get it right and if you feel that we are not meeting our standards, I’m always eager to follow up with staff to ensure that we do.  Never hesitate to reach out to me with your concerns.

On the third point, with respect to service centre issues, as noted in my capital budget review (, there is a capital budget item slated between 2023 and 2025 to build a mini operations centre in the West end of the City.  This is a vital piece to help service our growing community and should certainly improve efficiencies when finalized.

Have a great day and stay safe!