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FAQs About Snow Removal

A man beside a snowplow

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about snow removal.

Q. What is a windrow? Why is there one in my driveway?

A. Windrows are the clumps of snow left at the end of your driveway after the snowplow clears your road. Our snowplow crews' first priority during a snowstorm is to clear the roads and get you moving safely around the city again. It is your responsibility to clear snow left by the plows on your driveway. Please call the Service Centre at 519-886-2310 to report unusually large windrows.

Q. What should I do if a city snowplow gets snow on my cleared sidewalk?

A. Sometimes snow from our plows falls on sidewalks. Please call the Service Centre at 519-886-2310 to let us know if we have buried your sidewalk. Our staff will visit the site to investigate the concern.

Q. Why is snow piled in culs-de-sac and boulevards?

A. Our snowplow crews place excess snow on streets and boulevards to save the time and money of moving it from your neighbourhood to another location.

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

A. Pile it on your property, not the road, to avoid drainage issues and driving hazards. It is illegal under the Highway Traffic Act (Section 181) to push snow from driveways and parking lots onto the road and is a chargeable offence.

Q. Can I park my car overnight on the street during a snow event?

A. The City of Waterloo's traffic by-law (no. 2008-077) prohibits parking on city streets from 2:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. without an exemption. Each licence plate number, though, is eligible for 15 parking exemptions per year. This applies to parking on city streets, or in designated parking lots in the uptown core.

During extreme winter weather events, the city may declare a 'snow ban' in effect, meaning all overnight street parking is prohibited to facilitate road clearing (no exemptions allowed). Please check the snow ban news feed on this website, or our Twitter account @citywaterloo to determine if a snow ban has been declared.

Parking on the street during the day also slows down snow removal. If possible, please park elsewhere unti the plow has cleared the street.

Q. What should I know in the event of snow or ice storm?

A. Here are a few helpful winter/snow tips:

  • Please be patient and give the snow plows room as you drive near them.
  • Please clear snow from around hydrants on your property to assist with a faster response time in case of an emergency.
  • Ensure that intake and exhaust vents for your furnace are clear of snow to reduce carbon monoxide build-up.
  • Place garbage/recycling at the end of your shovelled driveway and away from the roadway. 

Q.  When and where does snow removal take place?

 A. During the winter season, weather and road conditions are monitored by the city's operations staff, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Roads are classified as per traffic volumes according to provincial criteria and the city must achieve quality standards that are consistent across the province. There are a number of factors including temperature, forecasts and precipitation that determine how and when plowing, salting or sanding take place. Each snow plow is assigned a designated are of the city and clearing is carried out on the basis of the following priorities: 1. major arterial roads; 2. major collector roads and bus routes; and 3. local residential streets. For more information visit out snow clearing priorities page.