Snow Clearing — Frequently Asked Questions

It's snow time!

Armed with plows, sand and salt, our crews are ready to clear your roads and sidewalks as quickly and effectively as possible. We maintain 1,900 lane kilometres of roads and 900 kilometres of sidewalks, so your patience is appreciated.

What number do I call if I have a concern?

To report a snow related concern, please call ServiceOakville at 905-845-6601 during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). You can also get 24-hour information by calling the town's snow information line at 905-815-5999.

Does the town clear all roads at once?

No. Primary and secondary roads are plowed first to ensure that emergency service vehicles can gain access throughout the town. Residential streets are plowed only after snow accumulates in excess of 7.5 centimetres. When all streets require clearing, they are to be completed within 24 hours after the end of the storm; however, when we have a heavy snowfall, or successive winter events back to back, it may take longer to clear all the streets.

What are primary, secondary and residential roads?

Primary roads are those with the highest speeds and greatest volume of traffic such as Trafalgar and Upper Middle Roads. Secondary roads, such as Glenashton Drive and West Oaks Trails, are roads that have less traffic than primary roads, but also have bus routes and generally lead to primary roads. Residential roads have much less traffic than primary or secondary roadways. Some seemingly residential roads are classified as secondary due to high traffic volumes, the presence of facilities such as schools, or due to hills and valleys. Visit the snow clearing page to view the snow clearing road priority map to see all primary, secondary and residential roads.

When does the town plow the roads?

Primary and secondary roads are plowed when snow accumulation reaches five centimetres (two inches) and salted to achieve bare pavement. Residential roads are plowed when snow accumulations reach 7.5 centimetres. Residential roads are NOT plowed or salted to achieve bare pavement and periodic snow pack conditions can be expected. Snow accumulation for each winter event is measured at areas of fresh, undisturbed snow in each quadrant of the town.

Why don't all roads have a bare pavement level of service?

To achieve bare pavement, salt must be applied at the onset of snow so that a layer of salt brine is maintained between the road surface and accumulating snow (to prevent bonding). In order to provide this level of service to residential roads, significant increases in equipment and salt would be required, with increased costs and environmental impact. The town as well as other Canadian road agencies are required to have a Salt Management Plan to manage salt use and minimize environmental impacts. It would be very unusual for a municipality subject to winter climate conditions, such as Oakville, to consider a snow packed road surface as unacceptable for local residential roads.

What is "snow pack"?

The snow pack is hard-packed snow on a roadway. It is the condition that can be expected periodically on residential roads. Snow pack develops very quickly as vehicles travel on snow-covered roads. Snow plows are not able to scrape off snow pack as it is usually bonded to the pavement. Although bumpy at times, vehicles typically navigate snow pack quite easily. Under snow pack conditions, some rutting can be expected. The town will take steps to improve conditions when warranted.

When does the town salt and/or sand the roads?

Salt trucks are dispatched to primary and secondary roads at the start of a snowfall and at the first sign of roads beginning to ice. Residential roads are not salted, but are sanded when conditions warrant, and then only at hills, curves and intersections.

Why does the snow plow leave a windrow to block my driveway?

Plow operators do not intentionally block driveways. With over 55,000 driveways, it is not practical for plow operators to lift their blades at every driveway. The plow operator also has limited control over the amount and direction of snow that comes off the plow. When clearing your driveway, try to pile the snow on the right side (standing in your driveway and looking towards the street). This can help reduce the amount of snow that is pushed onto your driveway when a snow plow passes. The town does not clear driveways.

When are transit stops cleared?

Transit stops are cleared after snow accumulates in excess of five centimetres (two inches), and only after roads are cleared. Transit stops on primary and secondary roads are cleared first. Transit stop clearing is generally completed within 48 hours after the end of the storm; however, when we have a heavy snowfall, or successive winter events, it will take longer to clear all stops.

When can I expect my sidewalk to be cleared?

Sidewalks on primary and secondary roads are cleared only after snow accumulates in excess of five centimetres, and only after roads are cleared. Residential sidewalks are cleared after eight centimetres of snow accumulates. Sidewalks located on primary and secondary roads with schools are plowed first, followed by residential sidewalks.

Sidewalk clearing is generally completed within 48 hours after the end of the storm; however, when we have a heavy snowfall, or successive winter events back to back, it will take longer to clear all sidewalks.

Can I expect my sidewalk to be cleared to bare concrete?

No. Aside from Business Improvement Areas (Downtown, Kerr Street, Bronte), sidewalks are only plowed. Bare concrete can only be achieved through the use of salt with significant cost and environmental implications. Sand is applied to residential sidewalks when icy conditions exist.

Why does my lawn get damaged when the sidewalk plow goes by?

While operators strive to minimize sod damage, some degree of damage is inevitable. Sidewalk plows are required to be large machines in order to effectively plow deep snow, when needed. Unfortunately, this makes them less forgiving to operate on sidewalks. Deep or drifted snow conditions often completely hide the sidewalk edge. When sod is frozen, damage is minimized; however, when sod is not frozen, it lifts away very easily and damage can be extensive. Often, the sod removed is overgrowth growing onto the sidewalk. To report sod damage, please call ServiceOakville at 905-845-6601 during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Town staff will review the damage and make repairs as weather permits. Some repairs may be scheduled for spring when new sod is available.

Does the town maintain outdoor skating rinks?

Outdoor skating rinks are open as weather conditions permit. The town requires approximately one week of below zero temperatures to prepare the rinks. For rink conditions call 905-845-6601 during regular business hours. For a list of neighbourhood outdoor rinks visit the outdoor ice rinks page. Please remember that for your safety, skating or access of any type is NOT permitted on storm water management ponds or creeks.

Want to track roadway snow clearing in town?

PlowOakville, uses GPS technology to track the progress of the town's plows as they clear roads during a snow event. When plows pass over a road, the colour of the road on the map changes to indicate a plow is operating in the area. As the clean-up continues, roads throughout town will change colour until all plowing is complete.

PlowOakville, available on the Oakville app, can be downloaded for free on iPhone and Android devices. The town will also share snow clearing information on Twitter. Follow @townofoakville for the latest updates.