Today, Mayor John Tory announced Toronto’s plan to expand its sidewalk snow clearing program to all neighbourhoods starting this winter.
This will mean 103,626 households will now receive this service – including 91 per cent which would now receive mechanical sidewalk snow clearing and around nine per cent which would be manually cleared due to sidewalk obstructions.
“Providing city-wide sidewalk snow clearing is the right thing to do and we are able to proceed thanks to the diligent work of City staff,” said Mayor Tory. “This will mean that when the snow starts to fall this winter, all 7,300 kilometres of sidewalk in Toronto will be cleared by the city. We found a way to do this thanks to new technology and also a comprehensive study of the City’s sidewalks so we had on the ground data – this was the right and responsible thing to do. ”
Currently, around 85 per cent of sidewalks in the city are already cleared by mechanical sidewalk plows while 15 per cent are not cleared mechanically. In a report going to the Infrastructure and Environment committee next week, City staff confirm that by testing the smaller equipment, as well as the data gathered from the comprehensive inventory, smaller plows could clear approximately 91 per cent of sidewalks in Toronto. The remaining nine per cent of sidewalks could be cleared manually by City workers.
When new, smaller snow plows became available in 2019, the City purchased and tested nine plows on nine routes that primarily serve seniors and persons with disabilities and did not previously receive the service. The routes covered 231 kilometres of sidewalk and City staff observed and documented the performance of the machines in a range of snow conditions and neighbourhood settings.
During the summer of 2020, the City also conducted a comprehensive inventory of sidewalks to collect data to help inform the trial as well as the report.
The expansion of the service aims to improve safety for residents in winter, provide more equitable snow clearing service to all areas of the city, and support improved accessibility.