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.

If you have questions regarding our winter maintenance activities, please visit Frequently asked questions at the bottom of this page.

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
plow in cul du sac 

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 484 lane km of streets and approximately 202 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.

Minimum Maintenance Standards for salting, sanding and plowing roads
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.

Winter Sidewalk Maintenance

The City clears sidewalks as per the Minimum Maintenance Standards.

The Standard for addressing snow accumulation on a sidewalk after the snow accumulation has ended is, to reduce the snow to a depth of less than or equal to 8 cm with 48 hours.

The standard for treating icy sidewalks after the municipality becomes aware of the fact that a sidewalk is icy is to treat the icy sidewalk within 48  hours.

The priority by which sidewalks are maintained 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

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

diagram showing how plows clear cul-de-sacs

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 shoveled 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

Frequently asked questions

Significant Weather Events
The City of St. Thomas may declare a significant weather event when the weather forecast or actual weather conditions meet a certain criteria.

Notification of a significant weather event:

In the event of a significant weather event, please check the following outlets for official information:

  • The City of St. Thomas Website

What is a significant weather event?

As per the Ontario Municipal Act, a municipality may declare a significant weather event when a weather hazard, either forecasted or occurring, has the potential to pose a significant danger to users of the roadways in which they have authority.

This declaration suspends the standard timelines required for municipalities to meet their winter maintenance objectives.  All roadways and/or sidewalks are deemed in a state of repair with respect to snow accumulation and/or ice conditions until the municipality declares the significant weather event has ended. In each case, during the course of a declared significant weather event, the standard for addressing winter maintenance is to monitor the weather and deploy resources to address the issue, starting from the time the municipality deems it most appropriate to do so.  When the municipality declares an event has ended, standard timelines for winter maintenance activities then begin.

Conditions causing a significant weather event to be declared:

  • Significant snow accumulation during a 24-hour period
  • Ice formation that occurs without warning from the weather forecast
  • High winds leading to blowing snow and large snowdrifts
  • Freezing temperatures when de-icing operations will not be effective
The City of St. Thomas wishes to note that the declaration of a significant weather event is not notice of a reduced level of service or a road closure.  The intent of a declaration is to notify the public that due to current weather conditions, caution is to be exercised when travelling on the City's streets and sidewalks, and that it may take longer than usual to restore them to the normal condition.
Which Streets get plowed first?
Streets designated as "priority" are cleared first, then crews take care of the remainder of the streets.

Priority roads carry the higher volumes of traffic and are most easily identified as main (arterial) roads or secondary collector roads. These are the roads people use to get to business areas, hospitals and in and out of the city. Bus routes are also considered in the first round of snow removal. The "other" roads are primarily residential or secondary routes and these are systematically plowed after the "priority" routes are completed.
Who determines which streets get plowed first?
St. Thomas follows the provincially prescribed standards for winter maintenance (Minimum Maintenance Standards for Municipal Highways, O. Reg. 239/02). Roads are categorized into five main classes. Class 1, 2 and 3 or priority roads, which include arterial and some secondary collectors, take first priority. Classes 4 and 5, which include local streets and cul-de-sacs, have less priority.
Does the City come back to remove snow its plows have dumped in my driveway?
Owners and/or occupants of residential and business properties are responsible for keeping driveways clear down to the street. Because street plowing operations push snow from the road to the boulevard, this does fill in driveways.
The plow came by, why is there still snow on my street or sidewalk?
A cleared street is one where the plow has been through once, regardless of whether there is a 'snowpack' left on the street. In other words, the street will not necessarily be totally bare of snow and showing asphalt.
If a plow has been down your street, you will see 'wind row' - otherwise known as snowbanks.
Sidewalk plows, because of the way they operate, will often leave sidewalks with a layer of 'snowpack'.
I live on a corner lot, why does the plow put so much snow in my driveway?
Residents living on corner lots or the first on the right of an intersection usually get more snow deposited in their driveways. When the snowplow turns right it sweeps a much larger area of the road than when it is traveling in a straight line, as well, the snow also does not discharge from the plow truck. Turning right effectively makes the plow push most of the snow ahead instead of moving it from the centre of the road to the side. The first property and driveway encountered after the plow straightens out usually gets more snow than others in the immediate area.
Why doesn't the plow do a better job clearing snow from my cul-de-sac?
It is very difficult for an operator to maneuver large equipment in a cul-de-sac in such a manner to clear all the snow. One of the primary purposes of a cul-de-sac is to provide storage room for excess snow during winter operations. Snow that is piled up in the centre of the cul-de-sacs will be scheduled for removal based on the availability of manpower and equipment.
Why are 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.
Why do we salt a road and then come along and plow it 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 does the plow not remove all the snow from my road?
The plows are designed to ride on "guides" (shoes) that raise the blade approximately 13 mm (0.5 inches) from the surface of the roadway. This is done to prevent damage to both the vehicle and infrastructure from raised manholes, catch basins or water valves. Once the street has been ploughed and salted, the interaction of the salt and vehicular traffic is required to melt the remaining snow cover. Streets with low traffic volumes will therefore remain snow covered longer.
Why is the plow driving with its blade up?

Reasons a plow might be travelling with the blade up are:

  • The plow is heading to and from routes
  • The plow is salting
  • 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.
Why does the city plow, when it is not snowing?
Between winter storms, plows are assigned to push back snow that has accumulated on the road shoulder, as well as snowbanks where necessary. This assignment widens local roads in preparation for additional snow accumulations.
Who removes the snow from sidewalks?
The City provides a sidewalk snow removal service using mechanical equipment. Sidewalks are cleared to a snow packed condition, but the equipment does not allow for clearing down to the bare pavement.

When the amount of snow is so great that plowing is no longer effective, blower attachments are often used. This method takes longer and costs more.
If you have the capabilities and time, please consider clearing your sidewalk or joining snow angels to help your fellow citizen clear their sidewalks and laneways.
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.

  • All arterial roads and designated school areas with sidewalks receive first priority.
  • Upon completion above, all other sidewalks shall be plowed following designated routes when manpower and equipment are available.

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.
Why does the sidewalk plow sometimes damage the sod?
Some older sidewalks in the City are undersized in comparison to the sidewalk plow blade. The machine plow blade is 5 feet in width and when angled is 4 feet 2 inches. The blade needs to be wider than the machine wheel base which is 4 feet wide or material would simply be pushed back onto the walk by the wheels once the plow blade has gone by. Typically sidewalk widths in St. Thomas are 4 feet to 5 feet wide. As the angled plow blade width is 4 feet 2 inches it should be noted the margin for error is minimal.
Why do I need to remove obstacles away from sidewalks?
Please remember to keep obstacles such as landscaping hedges, rocks, private curbing and underground irrigation systems off of the City's right-of-way. This includes the boulevard and up to your property line. Any underground irrigations system placed on City property that is damaged by a plow will not be replaced by the City. Operators can find it difficult to maneuver a sidewalk plow around overgrown hedges and shrubs that abut the sidewalk.
Why haven't the bus stops been cleared yet?
Removal of snow from bus stops frequently requires special plow attachments so this work is done after the sidewalks are cleared.
How do I report sod damage?
To report sod damage to your property, please contact customer service desk and our staff will enter your address into our system and have it reported for repair. Repairs are made after the snow season/plowing has ended, starting in May when the spring/summer seasonal work force arrives. Depending on the amount of damaged sod, repairs can extend through the spring and into the early/late summer. It is entirely up to the homeowner if they want to complete their own repairs; this is at the cost and discretion of the homeowner.
During the winter, a lot of stones were thrown onto my lawn, will the City remove the stones?
As we clean the edges of the road and the shoulders, sometimes the blades will cut into the stone and push it into the grass. We attempt to minimize these situations by adjusting the depth of the plows, but unfortunately it still occurs. We do not have the resources to clean up the stone and would ask for the property owner's help in removing the stone if required.
Who is responsible for clearing snow around Canada Post Mailboxes?
Canada post is responsible for cleaning the snow and ice around Canada Post Mailboxes. Contact Canada Post at 1-800-267-1177 for more information.
Can I park on the street at night during the winter months?
Overnight parking on City Streets is prohibited during the winter months, from November 15th, to March 15th, between the hours of 3:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
What can I do to help?
  • Be patient.  In heavy snow falls, it takes longer to get all of our street and sidewalks cleared.
  • Stay alert, slow down, and stay in control when driving your vehicle.
  • Leave room for plows.  When you see the blue flashing lights on the winter maintenance equipment, remain a safe distance behind them.  Also, never pass a snow plow.  This is an extremely dangerous practice.
  • Be a good neighbour.  Clear snow and ice from sidewalks as soon as possible after a snowfall to ensure that they are safe for all residents.  Lend a hand to others.
  • Do not park on the street during a snowstorm when snow clearing operations are underway.  Park cars make plowing difficult, and sometimes impossible.  If vehicles are not removed from City streets during plowing, and are found to contravene the by-law, they will be towed.
  • Please make sure that your car is parked within your driveway.  Please do not let it extend onto the street or sidewalk.
  • Remove snow from around fire hydrants on or near your property to enable quick access by emergency personnel if the need arises.
What if the plow scratches my patterned concrete or interlocking brick driveway?
The City is not responsible for surface scratches to private driveways from winter maintenance