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FAQs



Frequently Asked Questions

1. When does Winter Operations start for Public Works?

The winter season officially starts in early mid-November.

2. How many kilometers of road are maintained during the winter?

A total of 1,225 lane kilometers of road are sanded, salted and cleared of snow.

3. How does Public Works divide up the sanding and salting responsibilities?

Four shift Supervisors along with 20 Operators are split into four groups to cover sanding and salting throughout the city 24/7. Included in this group is a grader operator that will cover the hills when a snow event dictates plowing is required. The sand/salt operators are each assigned an area where they concentrate their work: north, downtown, east and west. One sander is also scheduled from 4 a.m. to 12 noon, Monday to Friday to sand municipal parking lots.

4. How do the plowing routes get organized?

Along with the core group mentioned above, the city is divided into three areas to accommodate street, sidewalk, laneway and bus stop clearing. These areas are supervised by Area Coordinators which include 18 plow routes, 7 loader routes and 9 sidewalk routes.  

5. How are the shifts organized?

Thirty-six street plowing operators are divided into two groups. Each of these groups alternate working an eight-hour day shift and an eight-hour night shift, Monday to Friday. Depending on the timing of the event, they may be required to work extended hours during the day or be called out early for a night shift. The weekends are also covered alternately by the day and night shift.

6. How do laneways and bus stops get cleared?

Seven loader routes are covered by operators that work an eight-hour shift. During a snow event they are called in at 4 a.m. to begin clearing the laneways and bus stops.  
 
When they are not handling a snow event, the loader operators are assigned a truck to clear snow piles to enable snow storage for the next event (at key visibility / problem drainage locations). These operators also work weekends when a snow event requires it.

7. How do sidewalks get maintained during the winter?

Nine sidewalk routes are covered by a group of operators that work an 8-hour day beginning at 4 a.m. Monday to Friday. When a snow event requires it, these Operators work weekends, as well.

8. Which sidewalks get plowed?

The City has a Sidewalk Snow Plowing Policy revised and approved by Council in 2016. The purpose of the policy is to give pedestrians a continuous network of plowed sidewalks that originate and terminate in neighbourhood, school or commercial areas. Criteria was established to assess the maintenance requirements with the key considerations including: street classification and traffic volumes, school routes, areas surrounding senior complexes or other sensitive land uses or transit routes. There are other factors to consider, such as; only one side of a residential street shall have its sidewalk plowed, if it does not provide a continuous route, if there is a significant vertical drop abutting the sidewalk, or if the sidewalk circles back onto itself. 

Please note: After October 31 each year, sidewalks will not be added to the program, as establishing routes that can be accomplished in one shift is onerous and once the season commences, additions can cause great difficulty.  The sidewalk plowing routes are reviewed once annually and any changes required or requested throughout the year, are evaluated in comparison to the criteria.

9. How many kilometers of sidewalk get plowed?

For the winter of 2019-2020, our sidewalk program includes 209 km of the total 356 km in the City.  The winter maintenance program includes plowing, sanding and sweeping the sidewalks in the Spring.

10. Is it possible to send workers home in advance of a snow event and have double force out during an event?

Public Works equipment inventory only provides coverage for a one-shift complement as listed below.

11. What does the equipment inventory at Public Works include?

The Public Works equipment inventory includes:
  • 14 front-mounted plow trucks with wing (three spares in the event of breakdowns);
  • 8 graders with wings (1 on shift schedule 24/7);
  • 9 trackless units; and
  • 7 loaders.

12. When can I expect the streets to be plowed?

Generally, Public Works begins to plow streets after an accumulation of 5cm of snow. Under normal conditions, all streets will be plowed within a 24-hour period unless adverse conditions exist and continue for an extended period of time. During severe weather events, every attempt will be made to plow arterial and collector streets followed by the residential streets.

13. Can the amount of snow be “more balanced” between my neighbour across the street and my driveway?

The routes are established based on traffic patterns and snow is most typically pushed to the right, which doesn’t allow the operators in most cases, to alter where the snow is deposited.

14. Why do I get so much snow in my driveway – I live on a corner lot?

Many corner lot complaints are due to the fact that the operator has to remove snow from the entire intersection area, as well as usually larger stretches of roadway to carry along, which gets deposited in the first driveway it encounters. It does not get done intentionally, nor is it avoidable.

15. Will the end of my driveway be cleared if there is a large windrow at the end?

If the snow / ice is deposited there from a standard snow plowing exercise (ie. during or following a snow event), the City will not be removing the windrow regardless of height. When Public Works undertakes a “cutting” exercise (ie. scrapping down significant snowpack on the road), Supervisors will assess whether or not a loader will be used to clear the end of the private driveways. This decision is made largely on the 2 ft. rule, but, also depends on availability of equipment / labour and is on a case by case basis.  Cutting the roads is done to minimize rutting of the snowpack, usually when temperatures may be rising or other circumstances (ie. weather event such as rain) requires it be done. If the City is removing snow, it can take an additional amount of time – delays of hours are typical to have the removal complete.
 
The Red Cross does offer a service for seniors and other qualifying individuals.
 

Collection of Refuse and Recycling During Winter Operations

16. Where do I place my garbage and recycling carts on collection day during the winter?

The garbage and recycling carts should be placed behind the curb, and clear of the sidewalk.  Generally, the most preferred place will be in the driveway, at least 3 feet away from a snowbank or parked vehicle.  Do not place garbage or recycling carts on the snowbank(s) as they will not be collected.

17. Do I need to put my carts out every week – especially during a major snow event?

No.  Your recycling cart should be placed out for pickup only when they are full or near full. If you also choose, especially during the winter months, your garbage cart may only be placed out if full or nearly full.  If a major winter event has occurred, please listen for announcements regarding cancellation of collection services and instructions for next pick-up.

18. When do my carts need to be at the curb?

Your carts need to be at the curb for 7:00 a.m. on their respective collection days. During the winter, residents are asked to place their carts out on the morning of collection. This is beneficial to the evening operators for snow plowing and snow removal purposes. For the same reason, residents are also asked to bring their carts in as soon as possible after they are collected. Please note: If your cart is on the roadway, the snow plow will have to go around it and your roadway will narrow.
 
 

Service Requests

19. Who do I contact for a service request?

All Emergency or critical requests should be called in to a 24/7 Dispatch service at Public Works – (705) 759-5201. A work order will be created to track and properly direct the service request to the appropriate Area Coordinator.
 
Other service requests can also be submitted by phone to: (705) 759-5201, by email at: pwt@cityssm.on.ca or through the Public Works page on the City website at: Public Works Service Request.  
 
A work order will be created to track and properly direct the service request to the appropriate Area Coordinator.
 
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Contact Us

Phone
General Inquiry: 705-759-1567
PWT Office: 705-759-5201
GFL: 705-945-7554

Email
pwt@cityssm.on.ca

Fax
705-541-7010

TTY
1-877-688-5530

Location
128 Sackville Road
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
P6B 4T6

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