The City's 27 snow plows are big, difficult to drive and work continuously during snowfalls to clear nearly 1,800 kilometres of road lanes.
Here are the road plowing priorities and standards during normal winter conditions:
- Arterial: For major and collector roads and major rural roads, the centre of road will be essentially clear as soon as possible after snowfall ends and, normally, within four hours. The Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area falls within this top priority.
- Collector and transit routes: For secondary collector roads and transit routes, the centre of road will be essentially clear as soon as possible after snowfall ends and, normally, within six hours.
- Residential: Local residential and minor hard-surfaced rural roads will be essentially cleared as soon as possible after snowfall ends and, normally, within 16 hours.
Kingston is one of the few municipalities in Ontario to clear all public sidewalks. The City has 13 sidewalk plows to clear snow from more than 500 kilometres of sidewalk. These plows are not equipped to remove ice from sidewalks.
Here are the sidewalk plowing priorities during normal winter conditions:
- Walks adjacent to high volume roadways with high pedestrian volumes.
- Balance of walks that can be cleared with mechanized plow.
- Walks that require a blower or hand shovelling to clear.
Winter Parking Bylaw
No parking is allowed on city streets from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. between December 1 and March 31. This overnight winter parking restrictions allows snow plows to clear roads effectively.
Snow Plow Safety
- Be patient and keep a safe distance from plows. When travelling behind a plow, leave at least 3 car lengths of distance between you and the plow.
- Do not drive beside a plow and NEVER pass a plow.
- If a plow is approaching from the opposite direction, shift to the right of your lane to give some extra leeway. Plows need to clear the centre of the road too.
- If you are on a multiple lane road (such as the 401) and there is a line of plows working, do not attempt to pass. Be patient and follow the plows at a safe distance.
- Pedestrians: if you see a snow plow, assume the driver has not seen you and move off the sidewalk into a yard where you can be seen.
- Parents: children should be reminded not to play on, or build forts, in roadside snow banks and to not approach a plow, even if it has stopped.
Winter Control Plan
The City's 2002 Winter Control Plan outlines how the City responds to winter weather to help people, drivers and emergency vehicles move safely and efficiently around Kingston.
In March 2014, after an extreme 2013-14 winter season that cost the City approx. $9.5 million, Council directed Public Works staff as follows:
"That staff be requested to prepare a report (1) reviewing the City's capabilities to meet winter control levels of service in light of the City's growth between 2008 and 2014 and recognizing public requests for enhanced service; and (2) indicating the equipment and staffing improvements and associated funding needed to meet the City's existing snow clearing and removal standards in time for consideration by Council for inclusion in the 2015 City budget."
Public Works staff presented a report to the Environment Infrastructure Transportation Policies Committee indicating they will monitor winter control activities over the 2014-15 season to identify the resource requirements / changes for inclusion in future budgets.