COMMENT: City caught with snowpants down

Snow tweets from December 5

What a mess this morning.  Buses getting stuck, interminable commutes, missed appointments, vehicles in ditches.  A lot of people were asking “where were the City plows?”The City was caught by surprise by the size of this storm. To be fair, forecasters were calling for something like 3-5cm on Sunday night. We ended up getting double that amount.

Here’s how the city explains what happened:

Snow started at approx 3 am overnight where forecasters had predicted we would be on the edge of this snow event with less accumulation but the snow storm shifted, the epicenter with the most accumulation is directly over the City of Ottawa. There are varying amounts of accumulation throughout the City with more snow down in the West and South areas (7cm+) then in the central core and along the Ottawa River (5cm). Night shift staff started to plow and salt at the beginning of the event the priority road and sidewalk network. All combo trucks, sidewalk equipment, graders for gravel roads, bus stop equipment have been deployed with the day shift to open the road and sidewalk network. Residential plowing will take place this morning once the bulk of the snow has fallen.

So they sent the plows out, but it was too late to have much impact during the morning rush hour.  I talked to a local tow truck driver this morning who spends a lot of time on the road, and he says he didn’t see any city plows the entire morning.  The only plows I saw on my 45-minute commute from Stittsville to Kanata North were provincial trucks heading out to the Queensway.

I know Mother Nature is unpredictable but there’s got to be a better way to plan and execute our snowplow operations. This is the second snow storm of the season and the snow clearing service has left a lot of people cold.

I realize the budget isn’t endless but there must be a way to re-prioritize resources so that we can all get to work safely and within a reasonable amount of time – by foot, by bus or by car – even on days with a bit of snow.


(For the record, the City’s minimum threshold for clearing snow on residential streets is 7cm, not 10cm. There was a proposal last summer to go with the higher number, but councillors rejected it.)


1 thought on “COMMENT: City caught with snowpants down”

  1. To be fair Ottawa is one of the better cities in terms of snow plowing areas like Toronto and Montreal don’t plow side roads until its 10cm plus.

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