Snow Clearing and Removal

Snow Removal and Priority Areas

There are a number of factors including temperature, forecasts and precipitation that determine how and when plowing, salting or sanding takes place. Road crews work hard to keep priority roads as clear as possible to ensure the safety of drivers and allow for emergency vehicles to respond quickly and safely. Snow clearing routes are designed to minimize duplication and maximize efficency. 

Our goal is to clear snow and ice as quickly as possible and have one snow plow pass on all streets within 24 hours after a snow event. However, during heavy snow and ice storms, snow removal will take longer and it may not be possible to reach residential areas until after the storm event has ended

Please be paitent while you wait for plows to get to your area and remember to give yourself extra time to get where you need to go. Also, take into consideration delays that are common during the winter season and plan your day accordingly!

Using Provincial guidelines set out in the Municpal Act, roads are classified based on their intended use (for instance, traffic volumes and speed limits) and maintained accordingly.

Listed in order are road snow-clearing priority areas:

  1. Major arterial roads and bus routes
  2. Major collector roads and industrial areas
  3. Local residential streets
  4. Cul-de-sacs and dead end streets

All maintenance standards are based on operations taking place after a snow or ice storm has ended. For information on our sidewalk snow removal priority list and our Good Neighbour Policy, please scroll further down on this page.

Things You Can Do To Help!

By following these tips, you can improve road safety and help us increase the efficiency of our snow removal operations by allowing us to plow properly with one pass.

  • Do not park on the street until after the snow has been cleared. Remember vehicles are not permitted to park on city streets from December 1 to March 31 between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
  • Give snow plows plenty of room as they may need to back up
  • Pile all snow from your driveway and sidewalks on your property.  It is illegal to push snow onto the road. Read the Ontario Highway Traffic Act - section 181
  • On your garbage and recycling collection day, place garbage bags and recycling containers close to the road edge but in your driveway so that they don't interfere with snow removal as well as get lost in the snow drifts
  • Remind children not to play on snow banks near the road
  • If possible, please help us by clearing catch basins to avoid flooding in your area during thaws
  • Also, if possible, please help our Fire Department by remove snow from around fire hydrants

Downtown Snow Removal

In downtown Woodstock, merchants are required to clear the snow and ice from sidewalks fronting their businesses as per Bylaw #513.3.1. Any occupant, any owner, and any person having charge, care or control of any house, building or lot fronting on the streets in the City of Woodstock listed in Schedule 'A' to this Chapter shall remove and clear away any accumulation of snow or ice from the sidewalk on that side of such street which is nearest to such house, building or lot between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. every day, except Sundays and statutory holidays. Follow the link provided for more details. The downtown core will be monitored by our bylaw enforcement staff and snow will be removed at cost to the owner.

Sidewalk Snow Clearing

We just do not have the man power or the equimpent to clear both the roads and sidewalks throught the city at the same time.  We strive to clear the curb-faced and back-lotted sidewalks of snow after the roads and priority areas are cleared. 

Using Provincial Minimum Maintenance Standards (MMS) snow removal of sidewalks takes place:

Priority 1 Areas
After 5 cm or more has accumulated on sidewalks

  • Municipal offices
  • City-owned facilities in the downtown core

Priority 2 Areas
After 8 cm or more of snow has accumulated on sidewaks

  • Crossing guard locations
  • Bridges
  • Bus stops

Priority 3 Areas
The remaining sidewalks shall be cleared in sequence and as resources become available

  • Collector and arterial roads in non-residential areas
  • Bus routes and schools
  • City parks, walkways/access, 
  • Woodstock General Hospital and retirement/nursing homes
  • High density residential areas
  • Curb-faced sidewalks and boulevard sidewalks

Sidewalk clearing activities do not occur during the weekends. Sidewalk snow clearing shall restart at priority 1 at the beginning of each snow event regardless of clearing activity status from the prior snow event. 

At a minimum, all sidewalks will be maintained to a smooth snow packed condition. This is due to limitations of mechanical equipment and sidewalk irregularities. When icy conditions exist, sanding/salting will be undertaken as soon as practical after becoming aware that the sidewalks are icy using the same priority sequence and time frames described. Reasonable attempts will be made to avoid depositing excessive snow in driveways and/or private sidewalks; however the removal of any snow deposits that may result from sidewalk plow operations are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner. 

Snow or ice-covered sidewalks can be treacherous for all residents, especially those who already have mobility restrictions and recognizing that emergency situations arise, which may interfere with our snow removal activities, and that there are provincially legislated requirements that must be met prior to sidewalk clearing activities occur, the City requests that residents be Good Neighbours and assist in sidewalk snow clearing. A Good Neighbour City Policy was approved at the November 5, 2015 council meeting. Although there is currently no bylaw mandating residents to clear their sidewalks for most areas in the city, it is a neighbourly thing to do!  This policy does not apply to areas where there is a bylaw in place concerning sidewalks. Where there is a bylaw in place, the bylaw shall take precedence.

During the course of operations of sidewalk clearing activities, a certain amount of damage to city and private property may be incurred. In the event that significant sod damage is sustained it will be restored by City forces using topsoil and seed at the earliest availability of materials in the spring, conditional upon the severity and extend of sod damage and the prevailing weather conditions. The City will not be held responsible for damage due to the use of salt and sand. This policy does not apply to any sidewalks or trails in city parks.

Being a Good Neighbour!

There are a number of things you can do to be a good neighbour after a snowfall:

  • Shovel/plow as soon as possible after a snow fall (sometimes it's best to clear the end of your driveway unitl after the plow has passed)
  • Use a proper sized shovel
  • Do not shovel onto the road (Chapter 0513 - Snow-Ice Removal-Sidewalks-Streets)
  • Do not pile snow so that it becomes a visual obstruction to pedestrians and drivers
  • Carefully use safety salt only as necessary and/or sand on ice
  • If you are going away, please arrange for your sidewalk to be cleared
  • Do no attempt to clear snow if you suffer from heart or other medical problems that can be exacerbated by physical activity (Find out more about the Recreation and Leisure's Snow Buddies program by calling the Southside Aquatic Center at 519-421-7665)
  • On your garbage and recycling day, keep a level area clear for your bags and containers in an area such as your driveway so they don't interfere with snow removal

Overnight and Temporary Parking Policy

For parking restrictions follow the link to our parking page.

Fequently Asked Questions about Snow Removal

Plan your day according to the weather! Please remember to give yourself extra time to get where you need to go, and take into consideration delays that are common during the winter season.  

What number do I call if I have a concern?

Please be paitent while you wait for plows to get to your area. If it has been more than 48 hours after the snow event has stopped and your street is not cleared, please contact us. 

  • During business hours:  Call Pubic Works at 519-539-1291 ext. 3104 or 3102, Mondays to Fridays, 8:30 a.m - 4:30 p.m. 
  • After hours or emergencies:  Call Police Services at 519-537-2323. 

During and after a snow event we receive numberous calls asking us to come out and clear their roads. Snow clearing routes have been designed to minimize duplication. Pulling a snow plow from its designated route to clear another area simply is not efficient. Our staff work hard keeping the roads clear or snow and ice.  

Does the city clear all roads at once?

It simply is not possible. Using Provincial guidelines set out in the Municpal Act, roads are classified based on their intended use and maintained accordingly. Main and collector roads are plowed first to ensure that emergency service vehicles can get around the city safely and quickly. Residential streets are plowed after main and collector roads have been cleared of snow.  When there are heavy snowfalls or successive winter events back to back, it may take longer to clear all the streets. See road clearing priorities above.

What are main roads, collector roads and residential through-streets?

Main roads are those with the greatest volume of traffic such as Dundas Street, Devonshire Avenue, Huron Street, Norwich Avenue and also streets that have bus routes. Collector roads are roads that have less traffic than main roads and generally lead to main roads. Residential roads have much less traffic than main roads and collector roads.

What should I do with snow I clear from my property?

Pile the snow on your property. It is illegal to push snow onto the road. (Chapter 0513 - Snow-Ice Removal-Sidewalks-Streets)  Also, putting snow on the road can lead to drainage issues and driving hazards. Do not push snow on your neighbours property unless you have their permission. Please be careful not to pile snow around fire hydrants. Our emergency services staff need access to hydrants year round and timing is crutial. 

Why do plows go so fast and throw snow on my sidewalk?

Plows must maintain a minimum speed to move snow off to the side. Our crews do not intentially push snow to block sidewalks. Some sidewalks are very close to the curb and it is difficult to avoid getting snow on them. Please wait unitl you know our crews have been by your area before clearing the snow from these curb-faced sidewalks.  

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

Please understand our plow operators do not intentionally try and block driveways. With the amount of driveways in the city, it is not practical for plow operators to lift their blades at every driveway. The operator 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 plow passes. The city does not clear driveways. If you encounter unusually large windrows you may call us at  519-539-1291.

Can the city remove snow they have put at the end my driveway?

Considering the large number of driveways in the city, it is too costly and time consuming to use additional personnel and equipment to perform this service. The city does not have the resources available to provide that level of service. Residents are responsible for clearing the end of their driveways. If possible, please wait until the plow has passed before clearing the end of your driveway. If you are finding it difficult for what ever reason, perhaps you may need to look at hiring that service out either to someone/student in the neighbourhood or a landscaper/snow removal company or the Snow Buddies program. More information below regarding the program.

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

Our operators strive to minimize lawn damage, however some degree of damage is inevitable. Deep or drifted snow conditions often completely hide the edge, making it difficult to avoid turf damage in the plowing process. To report turf damage, please call us at 519-539-1291. Staff will review the damage in early spring and make repairs as weather permits.

What if I am unable to clear the snow from my sidewalk because of age or disability?

Unfortunately, snow removal services are not available from the City. The City does coordinate the Snow Buddies program for seniors and persons with disabilities. The program matches individuals (both volunteers and individuals requesting pay) from the community. 

Call the Southside Aquatic Centre for more information on this program and how to register at 519-421-7665 or visit them at 315 Finkle Street.

Do you know someone that is 13 years and older?  Perhaps they may be interested in working or volunteering their time for school/community hours and help out a neighbour at the same time!  Training includes customer service, safety and more. They may contact the Southside Aquatic Centre (contact information listed above) for more information.

Who is responsible for clearing snow around Canada Post Super Mailboxes?

Canada Post is responsible for clearing the snow and ice around Super Mailboxes. Contact Canada Post at 1-800-267-1177 for more information.

Report a Problem

If it's been more than 48 hours since the snowfall stopped and your street hasn't been cleared, contact us.

Contact Us

© 2017 City of Woodstock P.O. Box 1539, 500 Dundas Street, Woodstock, ON N4S 0A7


Phone: 519-539-1291
TTY: 519-539-7268
Email: General Information

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