Winter Maintenance

Please visit our Current Snow Plowing Status page during a snow event to get details on our Plowing, Sanding and Salting efforts in the City.

St. Thomas' Snow and Ice Control Plan has been designed to achieve the following objectives:

  • To meet or exceed Municipal Act Regulation 239/02
  • To reduce the hazards of icy road conditions to motorists
  • To reduce economic losses to the community and industry caused by workers not being able to get to their jobs on time
  • To facilitate the handling of emergencies by fire, police and ambulance officials
  • To maintain as safe as possible, all school bus and public transit routes


Staff and Council conducted a detailed review of existing levels of service in 2015. The review included an assessment of existing practices, a comparison to peer Cities, and created numerous recommendations for improvements. The full council report can be viewed here. Throughout the last 15 years of growth in St. Thomas, there was no increase in winter maintenance equipment or operators. Compared to peer municipalities, St. Thomas was spending significantly less although meeting legislated standards. There was a community desire to increase the level of service primarily based on a large snow accumulation in 2015. Staff and Council worked collaboratively to immediately implement 5 strategic improvements and approved 5 more in the 2016 budget process.

Approved Quality Standards Summary

In St. Thomas there are approximately 425 lane km of streets and approximately 180 km of sidewalk. The level of service is a collective choice made by council, staff and the community. Level of Service has to be a balance of expectation and cost however, streets must be plowed according to the Minimum Maintenance Standard (MMS) Classification set out by Municipal Act Regulation 239/02. The degree of winter maintenance effort is legislated to increase based on traffic speed and volume. Below is a description of the Minimum Maintenance Standard for plowing, salting and sanding of City Streets. Please refer to the map to determine the MMS Classification of your street.

MMS Classification Plowing begins... Salting/Sanding begins...
MMS 1 There are no streets in St. Thomas in this Classification
MMS 2 When snow/slush reaches a depth of 5 cm, within 6 hours of becoming aware of accumulation Within 4 hours of becoming aware of icy conditions
MMS 3 When snow/slush reaches a depth of 8 cm, within 12 hours of becoming aware of accumulation Within 8 hours of becoming aware of icy conditions
MMS 4 When snow/slush reaches a depth of 8 cm, within 16 hours of becoming aware of accumulation Within 12 hours of becoming aware of icy conditions
MMS 5 & 6 When snow/slush reaches a depth of 10 cm, within 24 hours of becoming aware of accumulation Within 16 hours of becoming aware of icy conditions

To understand Winter Maintenance Operations please watch this video provided by the City of London. Please be advised this video specifically relates to the City of London's operation and some items discussed in the video do not pertain to the City of St. Thomas's Winter Maintenance Operation

Salting and Sanding

Salt is applied early in a storm to prevent snow from sticking to the pavement. If plowing is required later, the plow is then able to clear the pavement completely. Salting will be done again after the plow has passed to keep ice off the pavement. Critical areas such as steep hills, curves, intersections and approaches to railroad crossings are salted throughout a storm. Sand is usually applied to MMS Classification streets 5 & 6. To find out when you street will be salted or sanded please see the above chart.

Sidewalk Cleaning

Generally, sidewalk snow plowing will commence when the snow has accumulated to 15 cm. The time that plowing commences may vary due to time of day and available manpower, and is normally carried out during regular working hours. The priority by which sidewalks are plowed is:

i) all arterial roads and designated school areas with sidewalks receive first priority

ii) upon completion of i) above, all other sidewalks shall be plowed following designated routes when manpower and equipment are available.

If you have the capabilities and time, please consider clearing your sidewalk or joining snow angels to help your fellow citizens.

Sidewalk priorities can been seen on this map.

Some Streets Throw our Plows a Curve

If you live on a cul-de-sac, or on a street with a radius elbow corner, you may already be aware that these streets are special challenges for snow clearing crews. We'd like to share with you both the guidelines we follow and some of the challenges we face on these special streets whenever our plows go out on the road.

drawing of a typical cul-de-sac

Conventional and somewhat large snow removal equipment in these cul-de-sacs and radius elbow corner is at best, difficult to maneuver. Upon the accumulation of substantial snow, excess snow has to be piled in the centre portion of cul-de-sacs or on the city owned portion of streets and boulevards. Upon time and equipment becoming available, this excess snow is usually hauled to some other location. We trust that you will understand that during stormy weather conditions, our crew's first priority is to clear roadways and get the city moving safely again.

What is a windrow and why is it in my driveway?

drawing of driveway with snow shovled to the sidesAlthough we all look forward to having the streets plowed, no one really looks forward to that pile of snow left at the end of the driveway. We understand your frustration with this situation; once you've cleared your driveway, it can be annoying to see it obstructed with a pile of snow, or a windrow, left behind by the plow.

Plows push most of the accumulated snow along the roadway. But some snow normally moves to the side of the plow blade. As the plow moves past driveways, that snow falls to one side forming a windrow. It is unfortunately up to the home owner to clear this snow left behind by the plow. Please be advised that Section 170 (15) of the Highway Traffic Act prohibits the depositing of snow or ice on a roadway.

Questions or Concerns?

We value your feedback. To report a concern, please e-mail the customer service desk. Your concern will be logged and immediately provided to our Winter Maintenance Team. During a winter event teams must focus on clearing the streets and are not available to return calls or respond to e-mails that have been logged in the SRM system. Thank you for your patience during a winter event.

Applicable Traffic Laws