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Winter and what you need to know

As the winter season starts to roll in, we'd like to highlight the important municipal services that will take place over the next few months and provide you with a few reminders to help you stay safe in the cold weather.

Armed with plows, sand and salt our crews are ready to clear your roads and sidewalks as quickly and effectively as possible. We maintain 5,400 lane kilometres of roads and 170 kilometres of sidewalks.

Winter conditions create challenges for both pedestrians and motorists. We are committed to providing safe, passable roads, sidewalks and parking lots so that residents can travel safely during the winter months.

The primary objectives of the winter control program are:

  • to reduce the hazards of winter conditions for motorists and pedestrians on roads, sidewalks, and parking lots maintained by the City
  • to reduce the economic losses to the community and industry resulting from traffic delays and accidents
  • to facilitate the handling of emergencies by all emergency personnel
  • to maintain safe, passable school bus and public transit routes

You can report snow related concerns online or call 705-324-9411 to speak with customer service.

Our Winter Control Roadway Level of Service Policy and Sidewalk Level of Service Policy - Winter Maintenance provide more information about our winter control practices.

It's that time of the year

As the snow continues to fall, winter operations are underway to help keep our roads and sidewalks safe. Our equipment operators, running plow trucks applying materials such as sand/salt, as well as our patrol crews, are busy working around the clock to monitor and manage infrastructure throughout the different weather conditions. Help us work together by doing your part such as keeping your vehicles off the roads and your sidewalks clear.

Snow Plow Truck

Snow plow operations

  • Kawartha Lakes is the second largest geographic municipality in Canada. This means we have over 5400 lane kms to clear during every winter and/or freezing rain event. Please be patient during winter events as our crews can be out as early as 4am to begin maintaining the roads.
  • We have 71 snow plow routes throughout Kawartha Lakes. The number of plows on duty depends on staff and equipment availability as well as road conditions.
  • If you see a truck with their snow plow up, that means the plow is currently traveling to their designated route. Often times, trucks need to cross through other roads to reach their destination.
  • If you have a concern to report regarding a road, please use our online Report It tool and your report will be sent directly to the crew responsible for the area.

Help do your part during the winter season

  • Pile snow from your driveway and walkways onto your property - not on the road. It is against the Ontario Highway Traffic Act to deposit snow or ice on a roadway without permission from the road authority.
  • Clear walkways around your property as soon as you can after a snowfall applying sand or salt when icy.
  • Keep fire hydrants clear and accessible. The extra time you take to clear the hydrant each time you shovel will make a difference in the case of a fire.
  • On your waste collection day, place bags and bins on your driveway near the edge of the road in a cleared spot. Do not place containers on snowbanks.
  • During a winter event, please plan your route accordingly if you need to travel during snowy or icy weather. Travel on busier roads and be sure to clear all the snow off your vehicle for visibility and safety measures.

Kawartha Lakes is not responsible for providing salt or sand for public and private use.

example of sand

Salt and sand can be purchased at your local hardware store.

Winter Parking

Other things you need to know:
  • Overnight parking on the street is not permitted between the hours of 11pm and 6am between November 1 and April 30. The by-law is in place so our Public Works division can quickly and efficiently clear our roads during the winter season without obstructions. 
  • Monitor the weather and extreme cold alerts by following The Weather Network or on the Government of Canada's website.
  • If you are planning any activities near frozen bodies of water, please ensure you read our Emergency Services' Ice Safety Tips

Frequently asked questions

Does the City clear all roads at once?
No. Arterial roads are plowed first. Collector and Residential streets are plowed only after snow accumulates in excess of 8 cm. Snow plow operators clear all roads as efficiently as possible. When there is a heavy snowfall or winter events back to back, it may take longer to clear the roads.
What are arterial, collector and residential roads?

Arterial roads are those with the greatest volume of traffic such as Angeline and Kent Streets in Lindsay, Glenarm Road, CKL Road 121 and CKL Road 36.

Collector roads, such as Sweetnam Drive and Hartley Road, are roads that have less traffic than Arterial roads, but also have transit and school bus routes and generally lead to Arterial roads.

Residential roads have much less traffic than Arterial or Collector roadways.

For more information you can listen to a radio broadcast of our Roads Manager explaining how we service winter roads or read a recent newspaper article explaining how the City handles icy roads.

When does the City plow the roads?

The City deploys resources based on the Council-approved Winter Maintenance Level of Service Policy:

  • we plow arterial roads when snow accumulation reaches 2.5 cm
  • we plow collector and residential roads when snow accumulation reaches 8 cm
  • we do not plow or salt residential roads to achieve bare pavement, periodic snow pack conditions may occur

City snow plows may clear roads at different hours of the day. Residents should not expect to see the snow plow pass their home at the same time each day.

What is 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. Providing this level of service to residential roads would cause significant increases to equipment and salt requirements. This would increase costs and have a negative environmental impact.

We have a Salt Management plan to manage salt use and minimize environmental impacts. You can learn more about road salts on the Environment Canada website.

What is 'snow pack'?

Snow pack is hard-packed snow on a roadway. It is the condition that can be expected on gravel 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 gravel or pavement.

Although bumpy at times, vehicles typically navigate snow pack quite easily. The City takes steps to improve conditions when needed.

When does the City salt and/or sand the roads?
Salt trucks are dispatched to all Arterial roads when accumulations reach appropriate service levels for the type of road and at the first sign of roads beginning to ice. Salting and sanding occurs on other roads where needed.
Why does the snow plow leave a windrow to block my driveway?

Plow operators do not intentionally block driveways. With several thousand 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 City does not clear driveways.

When are transit stops cleared?
Transit stops with bus shelters are cleared only after roads are cleared.
When can I expect my sidewalk to be cleared?
We usually complete sidewalk clearing within 48 hours after the end of the storm. If there is heavy snowfall, or back to back winter events it will take longer to clear all sidewalks.
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 must be large machines in order to effectively plow deep snow. This makes them less forgiving to operate on sidewalks.

Deep or drifted snow conditions often completely hide the sidewalk edge. When sod is not frozen it lifts away very easily. Often the sod removed is overgrowth growing onto the sidewalk.

How can I help?
  • Remove snow from fire hydrants and drainage catch basins near your property.
  • Pile snow on the right side of your driveway (when facing the road) when shovelling. This helps minimize the ridge of snow created by the snow plow at the end of your driveway.
  • Remove snow at the end of your driveway .
  • Park vehicles off the street when possible. City by-laws prohibit the parking of vehicles on town streets between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. from November 1 to April 30. 

Resident responsibilities

You are responsible for clearing the snow on your property including the snow left by plows in your driveway and on the sidewalk. You may need to clear your driveway a number of times if plows make multiple trips on your road during the storm.

Avoid parking on the streets during a snowstorm and in the days following a snowstorm. Parked cars interfere with snow plowing operations. Plows must re-plow these areas resulting in additional costs and further inconvenience for your neighbours who must clear their driveways again.

Vehicles interfering with winter control operations are subject to an immediate ticket and/or towing.

How you can assist
  • Remove debris and snow from any catch basin inlet near or adjacent to your property;
  • Do not push or blow snow from your property back onto the street, this is dangerous and illegal;
  • Pile snow on the right side of your driveway (as you face the street) so that cleared snow does not get moved back into your driveway by the snow plow;
  • Reduce the height of snow banks by shoveling snow further back on your property to improve visibility;
  • Expose fire hydrants that become buried by snow banks and drifting snow.

Transit shelters and mailboxes

The City clears snow at bus shelters after roads are cleared. Visit the transportation and transit section of our website for more information about City transit.

Canada Post clears snow away from mailbox areas. You can contact them by calling 1-800-607-6301.

Tips for safe winter driving

  • Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, mirrors and roof;
  • Make sure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid and that it is rated to -40oC or lower;
  • Plan your route ahead of time and tell someone your destination and expected time of arrival;
  • Wear comfortable clothing that doesn't restrict your movement while at the wheel;
  • Have warm clothing in case you need to get out of your vehicle;
  • Always keep the gas tank at least half full;
  • Bring a map and be prepared to take an alternative route;
  • Bring a cell phone;
  • Use a matching set of four all-season or snow tires.

The two-second rule provides a guide to safe spacing under normal driving conditions. In winter and during poor weather conditions you should double the two second rule.

  • Pick a marker on the road ahead, such as a road sign or pole;
  • When the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the marker start to count, "one thousand and one, one thousand and two";
  • When the front of your vehicle reaches the marker stop counting;
  • If you reach the marker before you finish counting, "one thousand and two" you are following too closely.

Keep a winter driving survival kit in your vehicle that includes:

  • ice scraper/snow brush
  • shovel
  • sand or other traction aid
  • tow rope or chain
  • booster cables
  • road flares or warning lights
  • gas line antifreeze
  • flashlight and batteries
  • first aid kit
  • fire extinguisher
  • small tool kit
  • extra clothing and footwear
  • blanket
  • non-perishable energy foods such as chocolate, granola bars, juice or water
  • candle and small tin can
  • matches

Even in the snow there are places to go!
Don't let the winter blues keep you inside this season. Check out things to do in the winter, such as public skating or see our online calendar and  visit our Community News page to learn about other community events happening around Kawartha Lakes!

Winter pond hockey

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