Winter Operations

 

 Road and sidewalk maintenance is managed by the Town’s Public Works division. Regardless of the season, our staff maintains over 69 km of asphalt roads; 63 km of gravel roads; 132 km of surface treated roads and approximately 24 km sidewalks. Our mission is to provide safe roads and sidewalks during the winter season at a cost effective and efficient manner. Your ability to travel safely on the Town’s network of roads is our first concern.

We are dedicated to meeting legislated standards in the maintenance of our road and sidewalk infrastructure. We continually strive and embrace new technologies, while remaining fiscally and environmentally responsible. For more information on our winter control operations, refer to the Town’s Winter Control Bylaw 2015-127

Crew ‘winter maintain’ roads in accordance with the provincial minimum maintenance standards (O. Reg. 239/02, as amended). The minimum maintenance standard sets the out the requirements for patrolling and snowplowing based on the class or road.  This includes the amount of time that is allowed to pass before the snowplowing is to commence, as identified by the class of road.

The Town has established routes for clearing snow, and ask that you refrain from calling during the first day of a snow event. After the snowfall ends, it can take 6-8 hours to clear priority roads, and Town streets approximately 24 hours.

A larger or continuous snowfall may extend the time necessary to clear snow from local streets and cul-de-sacs.

Our sidewalk snow removal service is done using mechanical equipment and while sidewalks are able to be cleared to a snow packed condition, the equipment does not allow for clearing down to bare pavement.

Winter Parking By-law 2022-125

Residents are reminded that pursuant to the Town’s Winter Parking Bylaw 2022-125 as amended, that parking on town / public roads is restricted such that: “During the months of November 1st to April 30th, no person shall park a motor vehicle or permit a motor vehicle to remain parked on any highway between the hours of 12:00 am to 7:00 am.”. Failure to adhere to the requirements of this bylaw may result in vehicles being towed to a impound lot. The owner will be fully responsible to pay all required fees to obtain vehicle from subject impound lot.

Winter Safety Tips

Winter weather brings cold temperatures, snow and ice conditions to the region and can cause safety issues for both drivers and pedestrians.  Review these tips to help you prepare for winter.

 Snow Removal Tips
  •  DO NOT push snow from your private property onto public streets or sidewalk, as it is illegal. Pursuant to Part X (181) of the Highway Traffic Act “No person shall deposit snow or ice on the roadway without permission in writing from the Ministry or road authority…”
  • Shovel snow onto your property, away from the road and sidewalk;
  • DO NOT push large volumes of snow into ditches as it can turn into ice and block the culverts;
  • DO NOT park on public roads where it could obstruct snow removal or other winter maintenance efforts. Adhere to Winter Parking Bylaw 2022-125;
  • To ensure the clear passage of the sidewalk plow, DO NOT park vehicles on driveways in such a way that they block any part of the sidewalk;
  • Clear storm drains of leaves and snow to prevent flooding;
  • When piling snow on your property, take care not to block sightlines from driveways;
  • If you have a fire hydrant in front of your house, you can assist the District of Muskoka by clearing the snow from around the fire hydrant;
  • Consider assisting your elderly or disabled neighbour(s) by clearing snow for them;
  • You are reminded that you (the property owner) is responsible for clearing windrows from the end of your driveway;  and
  • Inform children not to play in snow banks at edge of road, snow piles in cul-de-sacs or any other area where snow removal takes place.
 Pedestrian Safety Tips
  • Pedestrians should wear reflective clothing at night or during poor visibility to ensure they are highly visible to all traffic;
  • Wearing earphones or winter headgear (i.e. hoodies, hats) can inhibit your hearing or peripheral vision. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings;
  • Don’t ‘jay walk’ it is unsafe and illegal. Cross at crosswalks or designated traffic signals;
  • Pay attention and do not text while walking; and
  • Make eye contact with approaching drivers before crossing the road.
  • Ensure you are wearing the proper footwear - have a shoe or boot with an aggressive tread. 

Take the program – Be Smart About Salt

Founded in 2007, Smart About Salt is the first comprehensive salt management program in Canada aimed at private contractors and facility operators.

Contractors responsible for winter maintenance on private land are encouraged to embrace the Smart About Salt program. The program’s objective is to reduce the environmental impact of salt while maintaining safety for vehicles and pedestrians. Although voluntary, the program is recognized by many site owners that may employ contractors in the snow and ice management industry that the contractor meets salt management best practices standards.

Be smart about salt! Visit www.smartaboutsalt.com to learn about ‘Smart About Salt’ and to register your company for training!

LESS IS MORE

“Smart About Salt helps educate contractors and private owners that use winter salt about best winter maintenance practices.

The Smart About Salt “Less is More” philosophy asserts that less salt equates to more effective winter maintenance, more savings and from a wholistic perspective, enhanced environmental protection.

Commercial parking lots, driveways, walkways, and private roads are often ‘winter maintained’ by a host of contractors. When conducting winter operations, many contractors may apply chemical anti-icing and/or de-icing agents with little or no judicial oversight or understanding about its application.

Salt is a highly effective deicer. However, its biggest attribute is also one of its biggest drawbacks. Salt is inexpensive, readily available and has easy to deploy application methods. Because of these attributes, private contractors have little incentive to monitor its use and/or over-use. Many contractors have every incentive to over salt, to make sure the job is done and to avoid any potential liabilities from slips and falls. Adopting this philosophy comes with collateral damage, which includes the harm the runoff does to rivers and lakes, as well as degradation and damage to buildings, pavements, vegetation, vehicles, and personal attire (i.e., footwear, clothing etc.). It is not that contractors are willfully over-salting. They simply haven’t had the training to understand that they can do a better job and improve their operations and profitability by using best salt management practices.

 Winter Driving Tips
  • Consider getting winter tires (if you don’t already have them). Winter tires provide better traction, handling and braking and can shorten your braking distance by as much as 25 per cent. All-season tires are not the same as winter tires. They lose their grip when the temperature dips below 7 C. Drivers with winter tires may also eligible for an insurance discount starting Jan. 1, 2016;
  • Drive according to road conditions. Give more distance between cars, slow down, and allow yourself more travel time. Give extra time and space to stop in bad weather. Do not rely on the estimated time of arrival your GPS gives you. Remember: speed limits are set for ideal conditions;
  • Clear snow and ice from your vehicle. Make sure you clean all windows, mirrors, lights and the roof. Wait for any foggy windows to clear up so your visibility isn't poor. Good visibility keeps yourself and others safe;
  • Check road and weather conditions frequently. Choose the route you'll take ahead of time and check the weather forecast to make sure you know what to expect before you hit the road.
  • Create a 'survival’ kit. Your survival kit should include items such as: gloves, booster cables, small shovel, windshield wiper fluid, first aid kit, torch, snow brush, candles, safety vest, water bottles and non-perishable energy foods. Put the kit in the trunk of your car;
  • Watch for pedestrians. Look twice for pedestrians crossing the road;
  • Stay back from snow clearing equipment by approximately 45 metres (147 feet). If you find yourself behind a snow plow, maintain a safe distance. Snow plow drivers do not always have the best visibility and can create clouds of snow that can reduce your visibility;
  • Pay attention to the road. Do not text or otherwise be distracted when driving.
  • Prevent hydroplaning.  Scan ahead for large puddles and slow down.

 What We Do

  • Patrol and maintain roads and sidewalks and monitor weather in accordance to legislated standards.

Did you Know?

During a major winter storm event, the Town will communicate using social media, so follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook

 Frequently Asked Questions
 
 Who Determines Which Streets Get Plowed First?
 The Town of Gravenhurst follows the provincially prescribed standards for winter maintenance (Minimum Maintenance Standards for Municipal Highways, O. Reg. 239/02 (as amended). Roads are categorized into five main classes. Class 1, 2 and 3 or priority roads, which typically are highways and main arterial roads take first priority. Classes 4 and 5, which include local streets and cul-de-sacs, have less priority.
How does the town determine if it needs to dispatch resources? 

Each night in the winter months, the town's roads patroller hops in a vehicle and drives around the community to determine whether we need to dispatch resources. 

If the answer is no, crews begin their regular shift at 7 a.m. and their work focuses on minor road and sidewalk clean-up, as required. Crews then focus on non-snow related jobs such as tree trimming, catch basin ice removal, etc. 

If the roads patroller determines that the snowfall has met the Minimum Maintenance Standards criteria, as outlined in O. Reg. 239/02, they call in crews in a phased manner. This means a 2 a.m. start for one crew and a 4 a.m. start for the other crew. 

The 2 a.m. crew focuses on urban routes and the 4 a.m. crew focuses on the rural areas. Regardless the crew, the first job is to plow the road. Once the main routes are plowed, the sidewalk crews are dispatched around 5 a.m. These crews focus on the sidewalks until they are cleared. On weekends, the focus is main road sidewalks and this is because of staffing resources. 

There are two sidewalk routes. They focuses on school areas, senior areas, and the downtown core first and then they branch out. 

We do our best to make sure sidewalks are completely bare. But at minimum they will be cleared to a snow-packed base and sanded. 

Ultimately, under the provincial regulations, we have 48 hours to clear sidewalks, but we always strive to exceed this. 

Most of our roads are Class 3, 4, and 5 and this means we have 12 to 24 hours to clear them. Of course, we regularly exceed this requirement. 

 Why does the plow truck always put snow in my driveway?
Snow routes must be plowed in the safest and most efficient way possible. Unfortunately, there will always be an amount of snow plowed into driveways and this is unavoidable. The Town will not clear the snow deposited into your driveway.

 If you have a physical or medical condition that may affect your ability to clear this snow we recommend asking a friend, neighbour or consider hiring a private service. High school students can earn community service hours towards their diploma – reach out to our community youth!

When clearing the bottom of your driveway, we suggest piling your snow on the 'away' side i.e. - so that the plow truck will not push the snow back onto your driveway.

 Why is it taking so long for my street to be cleared?
In order to make sure that critical services like Police, Fire and Paramedics can do their job, our first priority is always the main roads and arteries.

In extreme heavy snowfall events, our plow trucks may have to clear these same roads repeatedly before they can reach other areas. This is why you may notice that some residential streets have been cleared and yours still hasn't. Our crews will keep going until all streets have been reached.

 My street is not clear yet. How is an ambulance or fire truck going to reach my home?
 In an emergency do not hesitate to dial 9-1-1, even if your road is not cleared. Police, Fire and Paramedic services will contact the Town if they cannot reach an area. We receive many calls from residents asking for roads to be cleared because they need to get to an appointment and want the road opened immediately. We can't respond to these requests as our resources must follow their designated routes.
 My kids want to build a fort in the snow banks at the side of the street/snow pile in my cul-de-sac - is it okay for them to do that? 
 There are lots of great ways for kids to get outside to enjoy the winter weather, but we do not recommend that they build a fort in either the snow banks along the street or the pile of snow in the center of the cul-de-sacs because it is not safe.  Crews routinely have to cut back these banks to make room for more snow and a child could be seriously injured (or worse).  There are fun recreation programs to keep the kids active and the in the winter. Visit the Town’s Recreation Guide for more information.
 Where can I get a replacement blue bin? The plow hit mine!
As a friendly reminder, all of your waste, recycling, green bins and related materials need to be at least 4 feet away from the edge of your driveway. Our plow trucks have to do their best to fully clear the street and at times the force of the snow can be powerful.

 

Should your blue box be damaged by the snow clearing operations, please contact the Town of Gravenhurst.

 I live on a private road. Are you going to plow it?
 Our plow trucks do not clear private roads or sidewalks as this is the responsibility of the property owner or local association.
 Who should be clearing the snow away from Canada post mailboxes?
 Canada Post is responsible for maintaining snow around their mailboxes.

If you are unable to access your mail box, please contact Canada Post Customer Service.

 

 Report a Problem

To Report a concern with Winter Control Operations, Contact Us at:705-687-3412, press 5, and then 3, or ext 2261 or use our online form

Complaints are addressed on a priority and scheduling basis and in accordance with legislated standards.

Contact Us