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Winter Control

Although winter weather is often random and unpredictable, City snow removal efforts are not. The City is committed to providing a high level of snow removal service throughout the winter season.

Using a combination of City staff and contractors, plowing, sanding and salting is performed each winter with consideration to safety, environmental and budget concerns. Your cooperation in helping to keep streets clean and safe is appreciated.

Winter Control Update
Posted at 11:45 a.m. on Friday, February 17th

Weather: We'll get another break from winter this weekend. Temperatures could reach as high as 8 degrees tomorrow.

Priority Roads: Priority roads are in good condition. No action required.

Secondary Roads: Residential roads are in good condition. No action required.

Priority Sidewalks: Priority sidewalks are in good condition. No action required.

Secondary Sidewalks: Crews went out again at 4 a.m. to blow and sand residential sidewalks. They will continue until 4 p.m. today.

Snow Removal: Crews continue to remove snow at major intersections today. Also, downtown snow removal operations are planned for Sunday, February 19th and Monday, February 20th. All vehicles must be removed from on-street metered parking in impacted areas by 6pm both evenings. 

Recent Updates Posted
Thursday, February 16th

Winter Control Update
Posted at 12:00 noon on Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Weather: Cold this morning, but a warm-up is on the way.

Priority Roads: Priority roads are in good condition. No action required. Crews are removing snow banks at major intersections to improve sight lines.

Secondary Roads: Residential roads are in good condition. No action required.

Priority Sidewalks: Crews continue to blow and sand priority sidewalks. They will continue until complete.

Secondary Sidewalks: Crews were back on residential sidewalks starting at 4 a.m., blowing and sanding. They will continue until 4 p.m.

Please note: The average sidewalk route is 30 km, and machines can only operate at about 2-3 km/h.

Bus Stops: Barrie Transit is working diligently with our contractor to clear bus stops in priority sequence, in coordination with the City's Roads Department. The significant amount of snowfall received has decreased productivity significantly but crews are working hard. Please report any bus stop snow clearing concerns to transit@barrie.ca

Wednesday, February 15th

Winter Control Update
Posted at 10:40 a.m. on Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

Weather: Lake effect flurries today as the low tracks over eastern Ontario.

Priority Roads: Salt trucks were out at 8 a.m. to address some icy sections.

Secondary Roads: Once Priority salt routes are completed, sand will be applied to all residential roads.

Priority Sidewalks: Priority sidewalk crews continue to blow and sand their routes until completed.

Secondary Sidewalks: Residential sidewalk crews were in at 4 a.m. blowing and sanding. They will continue until 4 p.m.

Please note: The average sidewalk route is 30 km, and machines can only operate at about 2-3 km/h.

Tuesday, February 14th

Winter Control Update
Posted at 10:20 a.m. on Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

Weather: Increasing cloud today with light snow or flurries developing this evening.

Priority Roads: Plowing and salting operations have been completed on Priority roads.

Secondary Roads: Plows started on residential roads again at midnight, and are nearing completion this morning. Sand is being put on all residential roads this morning. 

Please note: Some residents may notice more snow in their driveway this morning. This is because yesterday plows were only able to do a single pass due to parked cars on some streets. There were quite a few streets that plows couldn’t even complete once yesterday due to cars. It is standard practice during a storm to just open up the roads and then go back the next night to clean up.

Priority Sidewalks: Crews continue to work on priority sidewalks. They have been running non-stop since Thursday. They will continue until they are in passable conditions.

Secondary Sidewalks: Residential sidewalk machines were out at 4 a.m. and will continue plowing and sanding until 4 p.m.

Please note: The average sidewalk route is 30 km, and machines can only operate at about 2-3 km/h. Cleanup takes time.

Monday, February 13th

Winter Control Update
Posted at 10:15 a.m. on Monday, February 13, 2017

Weather: On Friday, Barrie received 20 cm of snow. Yesterday, a Colorado Low brought the City roughly 10 cm of snow during the day. Following that, snow squalls kicked up, with heavy winds from the northwest bringing another 15 cm of snow. The clean-up is ongoing.

Priority Roads: Plows were on the road yesterday, and continue to clean up arterial roads. Salt trucks were on the roads at 4 a.m., and are nearing completion.

Secondary Roads: Residential plows were on the road starting at midnight and will be completed by noon today. Sanders will be entering residential roads shortly, applying sand on all roads.

Priority Sidewalks: Crews have been on priority sidewalks since yesterday, and continue to blow and sand routes. They will continue until the sidewalks are cleaned up and passable.

Secondary Sidewalks: Crews started on residential sidewalks at 4 a.m. plowing and sanding. They will continue until 4 p.m.

Overnight On-Street Parking Restrictions

As per the Overnight Parking By-law, on-street parking is not permitted from 3–6am within the Downtown Business Improvement Area, and on other City streets from 12:01–7am, December 1st through March 31st*. This ensures the City can completely clear streets of snow and that large emergency vehicles can get down the street. *Exception: Winter Maintenance Events

Levels of Service

The City has developed carefully planned levels of winter road service to combat the diverse weather conditions we see every winter. A combination of City-owned trucks and contracted units provide effective snow plowing services to Barrie roads through our Priority and Secondary route system (see chart below and map). 

This system assigns priority to all major roads with the highest traffic in the city. To ensure the safety of drivers and pedestrians, these major routes are serviced on a 24/7 basis when necessary. Secondary routes (all residential streets in the city) are attended to regularly, but less often than Priority routes.

With a system of service based around snow levels and maintenance times, we can ensure clean and safe roads are maintained efficiently. Eight contract road plows maintain Priority routes 24/7; City-owned units are responsible for Secondary routes.

Service Information

Priority Road Routes
MAP 

  • 5cm: approximate level of  fallen snow for road crews to be deployed
  • Cleanup to be completed approximately 6 hours after end of snowfall
  • Maintain road surfaces by keeping them as bare as possible through continual use of all assigned staff, equipment and materials required for the conditions

Secondary Road Routes
MAP

  • 8cm: approximate level of  fallen snow for road crews to be deployed
  • Cleanup completion dependent upon when snowfall concludes, ranges from 12–24 hours after end of snowfall.
  • Maintain road surfaces in a snow packed condition during a storm by use of all assigned workers, equipment and materials (i.e. sand/salt mixture etc…)

Priority Sidewalk Routes
MAP

  • 5cm: approximate level of  fallen snow for road crews to be deployed
  • Cleanup completion dependent on the amount of fallen snow and associated tools used. 
  • Maintain sidewalks in a snow packed condition

Secondary  Sidewalk Routes
MAP

  • 8cm: approximate level of  fallen snow for road crews to be deployed
  • Cleanup completion dependent on the amount of fallen snow and associated tools used. Note: Secondary sidewalk plows work Monday–Friday 0400–1600 (excluding statutory holidays) as required.
  • Maintain sidewalks in a snow packed condition
Note: The City's levels of winter control service meet or exceed the Provincial Minimum Maintenance Standards for Municipal Highways.

Responsibilities

City's Responsibilities
Including 1370 km of road, 570 km of sidewalks,  25 parking lots, 72 crosswalks, 113 bus shelters, 708 bus stops, & downtown sidewalk intersections.
Parking, Bus Stops & Crosswalks

During winter, our traffic services division ensures that all public traffic services provided by the City are as safe and accessible as possible. Traffic Services maintains City-owned parking zones and lots,  and crosswalks.

Public bus stops and shelters are maintained by Barrie Transit contractor.

Parks

The City of Barrie does not maintain parks, hills, or trails during the winter months; users assume all risk.

City staff clear/salt the bike path from Kempenfelt Drive to Hurst Drive; create and maintain 6 outdoor rinks and assist with volunteer outdoor ice rinks; and keep garbage containers free of snow and maintained throughout several key areas in parks.

Waterfront

Parks staff maintain the waterfront trail (one main walking trail)  from Heritage Park to ‎Minets Point Rd, and the bike path from Kempenfelt Drive to Hurst Drive. Parking lots around the waterfront are maintained so that residents can drive to and enjoy a winter walk on the waterfront. 

Sidewalks

Sidewalks in the Central Business District (Dunlop, Collier, Mulcaster, High, & intervening streets) are cleared by the adjoining property owners as required by by-law. Remaining sidewalks are cleared by City crews. The City anticipates all sidewalks will be plowed at least once within 24 hours.

With sidewalks of various shapes and sizes, crews use an arsenal of tools for sidewalk maintenance including rotary brooms, v-blade plows, and blowers. Using different tools allows us to safely and properly maintain winter sidewalks in two ways:

  1. Helps to reduce sod damage caused by sidewalk plows;
  2. Allows for more extensive maintenance of different sized and shaped sidewalks. 

Residents are asked to try to keep vehicles parked away from sidewalks so both our road and sidewalks plows can better clean the roads.

Downtown & Allandale Snow Removal Procedures

During winter months, crews will periodically perform snow removal procedures in the downtown area and portions of Allandale to allow access to parking meters and free movement of traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian). These operations are usually performed when snow accumulation has reached approximately 30 inches. When snow removal operations are underway, the City will temporarily bag the parking meters. This NO PARKING ban applies to all residents. Vehicles that interfere with the removal of snow can be ticketed and towed.

Please note: Pedestrian walkways are not maintained for winter operations. Snow removal operations around super mailboxes are handled by Canada Post. Beamish Construction performs winter maintenance on highways and off ramps, including the 400 series north of County Road 89, and 2 lane highways around Barrie (#90, 26 & 27). For related info please contact Beamish Construction at 705-727-1359 or 705-727-1333, or the Ministry of Transportation at 1-800-265-5407.
Residents' Responsibilities
Adhering to Winter Parking Restrictions

As per the Overnight Parking By-law, parking is not permitted on most streets from 12:01am–7:00am, December 1st through March 31st (3am–6am within the Downtown Business Improvement Area). This ensures the City can completely clear streets of snow and that large emergency vehicles can get down the street. Outside of this time period, overnight on-street parking will not be permitted should a "Winter Maintenance Event" be declared(communicated via this webpage, Facebook and Twitter, and news media).

Keeping Cleared Snow on Property

The City devotes a great deal of resources to keep streets and sidewalks clear of snow and ice after a snowfall. Residents often deposit snow and ice from their property onto the street or sidewalk not realizing that this contravenes municipal regulations (Nuisance By-Law), contributes to unsafe driving and walking conditions, and increases the cost of providing winter road maintenance. When you're clearing snow from your driveway, please keep this snow on your property. Your efforts in making winter driving and walking safe for everyone are appreciated.

Tip for clearing driveways: Piling snow to the right side of the driveway can help reduce the amount of snow pushed back into the driveway. Standing in the driveway and looking at the street determines the right side. Don’t forget to remove your parked car from the street during snow removal operations.

Ensuring Children’s Safety

Please ensure that your children do not play where snow is piled at the side of the road or in the middle of courts where snowplow operators may not see them.

Contributing to Safe Winter Walking

During winter months, snow and ice make walking very difficult. Here are some suggestions to help keep winter walking safe for everyone:

  • Clear snow and ice away from catch basins and hydrants in front of your property.
  • When clearing snow from parking lots do not push it into adjacent public land.
  • During and immediately after a snowstorm, reduce your driving speed to account for slippery road conditions and snow clearing operations.
  • During thaws, reduce your driving speed to avoid splashing pedestrians and prevent water from splashing onto the sidewalk where it will freeze into ice and become a hazard.
  • Please do not park any vehicles over the sidewalk. Even a partially blocked sidewalk prevents the plows from doing their job properly.
  • Please ensure that any structures are placed well back of the property line.
Avoiding Daytime On-street Parking During Snow Removal Ops

Parked cars make plowing difficult and sometimes impossible. With your help, winter maintenance crews can plow faster and more efficiently and you will reduce the chances of having to dig your car out of a snow bank.

Keeping Road Allowances Clear

To facilitate the removal of snow from sidewalks and to prevent damage to private property, residents are required not to place cars, fences, posts, hedges, shrubs, driveway curbs or other obstructions on the road allowance. The City will not be responsible for damage to items placed on City property by property owners.

Assisting with Keeping Fire Hydrants Clear

Barrie has approximately 3,700 hydrants that need to be cleared every time there is a snow fall. The City works hard to keep hydrants clear and available for emergencies, however with heavy snow falls, this can be challenging.

Residents are asked to assist by keeping fire hydrants on their properties clear of snow. Hydrants should have a clearing of one metre (3 ft.) all around and there should be a clear path to the street to ensure firefighters can readily access them. A hydrant can help save lives and property in your neighbourhood, if you see a hydrant that’s buried this winter, please do the neighbourly thing and dig it out. If you need assistance with hydrant snow removal please call 705-792-7920.

Reporting Damage to Sod

Sidewalk plowing presents many challenges; throughout the winter it is difficult to tell exactly where the edge of the sidewalk is, and when the ground is not frozen some sod damage may occur. Damage to City sod, pavement and City-owned trees will be repaired in the spring; the cost of both the sod and repairs is built into the City's contract. Call Service Barrie at 705-726-4242 when you notice the damage and your address will be added to a list for repair when materials are available.

Frequently Asked Questions

General
When and why are overnight parking restrictions in effect?

As per the City of Barrie Overnight Parking By-law, parking is not permitted on most City of Barrie streets from 12:01am–7:00am, December 1st through March 31st* (3am–6am within the Downtown Business Improvement Area). This ensures the City can completely clear streets of snow and that large emergency vehicles can get down the street.

There are no exceptions to the by-law. They are in place from December through March each year because it's never certain when winter weather will hit. Sometimes snow squalls happen overnight or we see freezing rain in the forecast (when that happens, the crews have to get out before the storm to prepare the roads). Further, stipulating set dates within the by-law ensures that the enforcement period is objectively measured, leaving no room for (mis)interpretation — forecasts can vary! — or likely missed last-minute communications as weather patterns change.

*Outside of this time period, overnight on-street parking will not be permitted should a "Winter Maintenance Event" be declared (communicated via this webpage, Facebook and Twitter, and news media).

Why isn't 24/7 service provided on Secondary routes?

Due to Provincial regulations there is a maximum number of hours that plow drivers can be on duty. Further, all drivers are typically required in at the same time on all routes to provide a consistently high level of service across the city during snowfall. Therefore, more staff would need to be hired for an additional shift if the City were to provide 24/7 service on Secondary (residential) routes, resulting in increased costs that would likely have an impact on ratepayers.

Priority routes (cleared 24/7) are set up so that residents don't have to travel far to get to a road that is maintained throughout the day and night.

Road Plowing
The plow always leaves snow at the end of my driveway. Why can't this be cleared by the City?

Unfortunately, plow drivers cannot control the amount of snow that leaves the end of the wing plow. All residents in Barrie are responsible for the removal of driveway windrows as the City does not provide this service. A private contractor may be a suitable option for those looking for this level of service.

If you feel clearing snow from ends of driveways should be a City service, please take the time to add your suggestion to the City's suggestion forum. The forum provides residents with an organized way of expressing, categorizing, and collaborating on suggestions for their City; it also provides City staff with the means to identify and measure ideas that are supported by the community and that may impact the City's budget.

Why doesn’t the City apply salt on Secondary routes?

Salt is applied to Primary routes only. The level of service on Primary routes is to keep them as bare as possible. These are roads that include bus routes, roads with heavy traffic or higher speeds or steep grades.

As an additive to brine, when it is below -12 degrees Celcius, the City uses beet juice (an organic natural product) to de-ice the roads (primarily Priority roads). The beet juice reduces the need for salt and is much better for the environment. The drawback with this product is that is too costly to be used exclusively.

Pickled sand (sand mixed with roughly 5% salt) is applied to Secondary routes. The level of service on these roads is to maintain a snow-packed condition. The pickled sand provides traction for drivers and pedestrians to get around safely on these roads. 

In 2001, Environment Canada released an assessment report stating that road salts are entering the environment in large amounts and are posing a risk to plants, animals, birds, fish, lake and stream ecosystems and groundwater. In 2004, Environment Canada produced the Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts. The objective was to ensure environmental protection while maintaining roadway safety.

In 2010, an evaluation of drinking water issues was completed for the City drinking water supply system. It found that concentrations of sodium and chloride for certain municipal supply wells within the central portion of Barrie are trending upward and may exceed Ontario Drinking Water Quality Standards. Since 2010, most municipalities—including the City of Barrie—have adopted the Code of Practice and annually report to Environment Canada to minimize salt use and research alternative materials.

City staff has also developed a Salt Optimization Strategy that allows us to lead by example and demonstrate that safe environmentally conscious road salt management and winter maintenance practices are a priority for the municipality. Every year, City staff review all routes each year to identify areas that can be removed from the Primary (salted) routes. For the 2016/17 winter, 19kms of roads were changed from a Primary to a Secondary route. For more information, including the list of streets that changed from Priority to Secondary classification for the 2016/17 season, please review this memo to City Council

My street doesn’t get plowed but the next street over, which is a residential street the same as mine, gets plowed every time it snows. Why?

Chances are the next street over is a City Transit route and they are given top priority by Council policy. Transit routes are all salted, normal residential streets receive only sand at the stop signs, hills and curves.

Why do we salt a road and then come along and plow it all off?

In a continuing snow storm, we apply salt to the road surface early in the storm. This causes a melting action that prevents snow that falls later from freezing to the road surface. When the plow does come along, the road gets cleaned down to the pavement and we do not get a frozen snow pack that is very difficult and expensive to remove later.

Why is the plow driving with its blade up?

Reasons a plow might be travelling with the blade up:

  • The plow is heading to and from routes.
  • Salt was recently put on that section of road, so plow drivers will lift the blades in order to not scrape off the freshly laid salt.
  • Most plows are equipped with anti-icing liquid tanks. Blades are typically up when the trucks are performing anti-icing due to freezing rain warning.
My driveway gets filled with snow to great depth every time the plow comes around, but my neighbour across the road gets almost nothing. Can’t you take the snow somewhere else?

Most of these calls come from residents with driveways that are the first ones to the right of an intersection or are the first driveway when entering the bulb of a cul-de-sac. The reason for the problem is that when a snowplow turns to the right it sweeps a much larger area of the road than when it is travelling in a straight line. The snow also does not discharge from the plow when it is turning hard right because the plows are angled from left to right on the truck. Turning right effectively makes the plow push all the snow ahead instead of moving it from the center of the road to the side.

The first driveway encountered after plow straightens out usually gets more snow than others in the immediate area. We can’t do much about this in most cases. If there is enough room we can sometimes get rid of some of the snow before the driveway is reached. Another point to understand, is that a fixed snowplow cannot carry snow around to put it where desired. The plow moves snow from the centre of the road to the side of the road – period – the driver cannot change that.

There is always a car parked on the street and the plow makes a mess trying to get around it. Can’t you have it towed away?

Generally during the day (unless the street is otherwise posted) it is legal to park on the road. Parking is prohibited during the winter (December 1st to March 31st) on any street between 12am and 7am, with the exception of the Downtown Business Improvement Area where parking of a vehicle will continue to be prohibited between the hours of 3am and 6am.

Enforcement staff will have vehicles towed for violating the overnight parking by-law, when the vehicle is noted in continuous violation or creating an immediate safety concern. If you have a specific location, please provide that to Enforcement Services directly at 705-739-4241.

Why is the plow scraping the pavement?

For larger snow falls it is common to do an initial pass to clear streets and then follow up with a second pass to clear and new fallen and residual snow and to wing back the banks to make room for snow storage that will be required for future storms.

Residential streets are also plowed when they become soft or slushy to prevent ruts, pot holes and icy conditions from developing when the temperature drops and the road re-freezes. When milder temperatures are experienced it also causes additional melt water that can lead to pooling of water and other drainage/flooding problems if catch basins are covered with ice and snow. Slush is removed from the edge of road to improve drainage leading to and around catch basins during the plowing process.

Sidewalk Plowing
The sidewalk gets cleared on one side of my street but not the other. Why?

We try to get one side of the street open on as many streets as possible as soon as possible and then come back to clear the rest. Sidewalk priorities include school zones, public buildings, the hospital, etc. which generate a high level of pedestrian traffic.

Why are the sidewalks often done first, then the plow comes by after and pushes the snow back on the sidewalks?

We frequently have issues with snow plows filling in sidewalks that are in close proximity to the road. Staff do their best to coordinate sidewalk clearing to take place following road plowing however this is difficult during larger and extended storms when multiple passes are required to clear roads. Sidewalk machines with blowers travel much slower than road plows making it difficult to keep up.

This issue is especially common on bridges: bridge decks are cleared on a regular basis but can become built up with snow overtime due to limited space for snow storage on these structures. Roads, Parks and Fleet dept. carries out snow lift/removals on bridges as required to make room for continued maintenance.

Why do I see sidewalk plows driving on the road?

The City has a system of Priority routes on arterial roads and Secondary routes on residential roads that are each assigned to various operators. Sidewalk plows often travel on roads to and from their route or work location as it is a quicker method of travel than by sidewalk.

Why are sidewalks sometimes so icy? 

The City’s service level and budget allocation for winter control on sidewalks is to maintain them to a snow-packed condition, and sidewalk plows/blowers are not capable of clearing snow and ice from sidewalks to the extent that bare concrete is exposed in all conditions.

Snow and ice often bonds to the concrete during extreme temperatures, and ice can also form on snow packed sidewalks during thaw/freeze cycles. Other factors, such as overgrown sod on the edge of the sidewalk or a buildup of residual ice and snow under wheel tracks, can cause the edge of the plow or blower to ride above the surface of the sidewalk. All affected areas are treated with sand for traction.

Why is a sidewalk plow sanding the sidewalk today when rain and warm temperatures are in the forecast?

This is done when fluctuating temperatures are causing melting snow/ice that freezes as the temperature drops, resulting in slippery conditions on the sidewalks. City sidewalk plows sand these areas in the interest of public safety to prevent slip and falls. The sanding process involves travelling the entire route to identify areas that require sanding; although the plow may not have been applying sand when you saw it, there may have been conditions elsewhere along the route that required sanding.

Are the blades on the City's sidewalk plows wider than the standard?

The City's (and contractors) sidewalk machines are 51" wide (4'3"). The cutting edges (blades) on the attachments are also 51". This is an industry standard for the equipment required for the job (4 wheel drive, articulating, and engine horsepower).

Winter Control Technology
What is an RWIS Station?

A Road Weather Information System (RWIS) is a network of roadway sensors connected to provide up to the minute accurate pavement conditions. These conditions are then translated into weather data for our operators to see. RWIS systems allow road crews to make informed decisions on road maintenance actions based on current weather conditions.

Barrie currently has two RWIS stations located in the north end at Bayfield and Livingstone and in the south end at Ashford and Yonge.

What does an RWIS Station measure?

Each RWIS station electronically monitors air and pavement temperatures and can create detailed information regarding the impact of winter storms on highways. More specifically, RWIS stations can individually identify and monitor the presence of:

  • Water
  • Ice
  • Slush
  • Snow or Frost
  • Wind
  • General Moisture
How do RWIS stations help winter control?

With the detailed information that an RWIS station provides, our road crews are able to make more informed decisions regarding winter control operations and make the best use out of materials and staff. This results in a more efficient, cost effective approach to road maintenance.

What is an ESC?

An ESC is a device installed in winter service vehicles that allow the operator to control the amount and location anti-icing and pre-wetting materials are spread. This results in accurately dispersed materials.

What does an ESC accomplish?

Electronic spreader controls minimize salt wastage by ensuring that the appropriate application rate is achieved. An ESC controls the amount of salt dispersed based on the vehicle's speed. This maintains a consistent and accurate application of materials.

Example: If a snow maintenance vehicle is traveling at a certain speed, an ESC is able to monitor the speed and adjust spreading levels accordingly.

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