City of Toronto ready to begin expansion of mechanical sidewalk snow clearing service starting this winter

The City of Toronto is ready to begin expansion of its mechanical sidewalk snow clearing service this winter, to help improve safety for more residents, provide more equitable snow clearing service to more areas of the city, and support improved accessibility when it snows.

The City continues to deliver one of the most comprehensive winter maintenance programs in the world and remains committed to expanding and improving sidewalk winter maintenance. Once the program is fully expanded, expected by later this winter, Toronto will become the third major winter city in North America to employ a city-wide mechanical sidewalk snow clearing program.

Last winter, the City mechanically cleared approximately 85 per cent of public sidewalks. Once this expanded service is fully in place, approximately 98 per cent of public sidewalks will be cleared using a combination of contracted equipment and new, smaller plows operated by City staff. Due to sidewalk obstructions and narrow spaces, the remaining two per cent of public sidewalks will be manually cleared by workers. Full expansion of the service by February will mean that 103,000 additional homes across the city will soon receive mechanical sidewalk snow clearing service.

Over the summer, following a two-year sidewalk clearing trial, City Council approved the expansion of the City’s existing mechanical sidewalk snow clearing service by nearly 1,100 kilometres, to cover most of the 7,300 kilometres of sidewalks in Toronto using smaller plows, starting this winter season. This expansion includes the purchase of additional new, smaller plows, which will be delivered in December, January and February.

Despite global supply chain and market factors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City has been working diligently through the procurement process to ensure delivery of the new machines for this winter. All the plows are currently on track to arrive throughout the 2021/2022 winter season to fully expand sidewalk snow clearing service.

The City expects to have as many as 34 new machines operating on public sidewalks, as part of the expansion program, by mid-December (including nine machines that were purchased as part of the two-year trial). The balance of the new equipment (approximately 25) is expected to arrive in Toronto ready to be deployed between January and February 2022.

Expansion of the service was informed by data and information collected through a successful snow clearing trial, as well as a comprehensive sidewalk inventory which took place over two winter seasons. The City purchased nine new, smaller plows in 2019 and successfully tested the equipment on nine routes totalling 231 kilometres.

Between December and March, a combination of City contractors and City staff clear public sidewalks in Toronto starting at two centimetres of accumulation. The City provides a program for seniors and people with disabilities to have sidewalks cleared in front of their residence, which will be provided again this winter.

While the sidewalk clearing service is expanded over the winter, the City continues to ask residents and business owners to be good neighbours when it snows and clear the sidewalk around their homes and businesses following each snow fall.

The Council-approved Mechanical Sidewalk Winter Maintenance Trial report is available here

More about winter service delivery in Toronto is here


“Expanding this service as quickly as possible this winter will help make a difference for people in Toronto by making sidewalks safer and more accessible when it snows. I want to thank City staff for working to get the new equipment here starting this month in order to expand this important service to every resident this winter season.”

– Mayor John Tory

“Plowed sidewalks in all areas of the city means safer travel for people of all abilities. Thank you to City staff for working to accelerate the delivery of new plows, so that this service can be expanded this winter for as many people as possible.”

– Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough – Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee

“The winter maintenance program for roads and sidewalks in Toronto is among the most comprehensive in the world and we remain committed to expanding and improving it wherever possible. Our staff have been working diligently to expand sidewalk snow clearing services to more areas of the city. Most sidewalks in Toronto will continue to be cleared using plows and that service will be steadily expanded city-wide throughout this winter season.”

– Barbara Gray, General Manager of Transportation Services, City of Toronto

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