Snow removal

Learn more about snow and ice clearing standards, and how to report uncleared areas.

Report an uncleared sidewalk using the process below.

On this page

  1. Road plowing standards
  2. Report a road plowing issue
  3. Snow events and street parking bans
  4. Sidewalk clearing standards
  5. Report an uncleared sidewalk
  6. Trail and bike lane clearing standards 
  7. Salt management

Road plowing standards

Following Ontario’s Municipal Act, we begin clearing roads when snow or ice reaches the required level. It takes 6 to 24 hours to complete all plow routes after snow or ice has stopped falling.

We share maintenance with the City of Kitchener on border roads. We clear regional roads (PDF) on behalf of the Region of Waterloo.

Priorities and expected service times

Our staff work around the clock to clear the roads and provide a safe commute for you.

Our service time is measured once the snow stops falling. If the snow begins within the same snowstorm, the service time resets.

Understanding our priority roads:

  1. Major arterial, such as King Street: 6 hours to clear after 5cm accumulation
  2. Major collector/GRT bus route, such as Regina Street: 12 hours to clear after 8cm accumulation
  3. Residential street, such as Northlake Drive: 16 hours to clear after 8cm accumulation
  4. Minor residential and cul-de-sac, such as Hillside Street or Beckwith Court: 24 hours to clear after 10cm accumulation
Check the designation of your street using our street priority map

Watch: ride along with a plow driver in Waterloo (2:54)

Report a plowing issue

Roads take up to 24 hours to clear. Before reporting an uncleared road please wait the 24 hour period. If snow begins to fall within the same storm, the service time is reset.

Snow plowed from road onto your property

Snow plowed onto your driveway from the road by is called a windrow. It is your responsibility to clear windrows as the city maintains the priority of clearing roadways.

Damage to property from a plow

If your property was damaged by a city snow plow, contact us at 519-886-2310. Damage is documented and repaired in the spring.

Delays in cul-de-sac clearing

Conventional plows have difficulty angling their blades to reach into corners and into cul-de-sacs. Image of a cul-de-sal and the radius of an elbow corner with a greyed out corner that cannot be reached by a snow plow truck.

We partner with contractors to clear cul-de-sacs on our behalf. You may notice large snow blowers that do not have city logos, and the clearing of the cul-de-sac may not occur at the same time as close by streets.

Please do not park your cars in corners or cul-de-sacs as it makes snow clearing more difficult.

Note that crews sometimes load snow in the middle of a cul-de-sac ora radius corner to avoid the cost of removing it entirely.

How you can help
  1. Give snow plows space.
  2. Keep cars off the street.
  3. Clear snow from fire hydrants on your property.
  4. Pile snow from your sidewalk on your property, not on the road
  5. Ensure that intake and exhaust vents for your furnace are clear
  6. Place garbage/recycling at the end of your shoveled driveway, away from the roadway
  7. Keep children off the snow banks near the road

Snow events and street parking bans

When forecasts predict significant snowfall, a snow event is declared. During these periods parking is prohibited on city streets. We aim to clear all city streets within 24 hours when a snow event occurs.

Check our news and notices page or follow us on our Facebook or twitter accounts to see if a street parking ban is currently in effect.

Sidewalk clearing standards

In Waterloo, responsibility for sidewalk clearance is shared. In general:

  • the city clears sidewalks not connected to a residence or business
  • property owners clear sidewalks connected to a residence or business

Use our sidewalk map to find out if a sidewalk is cleared by us or the property owner.

Check sidewalk responsibility

Property owner responsibility

Per the snow removal bylaw, property owners must clear their sidewalks within 24 hours after the end of a snow fall or ice build up. 

City responsibility

We clear city-maintained sidewalks using standards set out in the Municipal Act, which generally require clearance within 48 hours of the end of a snow or ice build up. Areas with highest pedestrian traffic are given priority after a snow event.

The city follows the Province's Minimum Maintenance Standards which requires us to reduce the snow to to less than or equal to 8 cm and provide a width of 1 meter within the 48 hour period. Sidewalk and trail clearing equipment is slower moving and takes longer than road clearing because of this reason.

Report an uncleared sidewalk

If a private sidewalk is not cleared within 24 hours after a snowfall ends, you have two options to request follow up:

1. Report online

Enter the address(es) into our online reporting system to immediately notify a bylaw officer. This option requires setting up an account with our online services portal.

The request is tracked and you will be able to view its status.

Report uncleared sidewalk online

2. Report by phone

Contact municipal enforcement at 519-747-8785, Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Trail and bike lane clearing

Trail clearance begins on commuter trails with a minimum of 5 cm of snow. Once this network is cleared, other winter-maintained trail links and park pathways are plowed. Service is usually completed 48 hours after snow has stopped falling. Use our snow clearance map to check if a trail is maintained through the winter.

To report an uncleared trail that is maintained through the winter, call 519-886-2310.

On-road bike lanes are cleared of snow and ice per Ontario regulation 239/02, which sets out maintenance standards for roads. Note that minimum service times for bike lanes may differ from the vehicle portion of the roadway. 

Salt management

We apply liquid salt brine onto the roadway before a snow event to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement. This makes snow removal more efficient because less salt is required to return roads to bare pavement.

Through several initiatives under our salt management program, our winter maintenance contributes to a healthy environment for our residents.

Find out what you can do to be smart about salt on your property.