Winter Roads - Frequently Asked Questions
- Freeways, arterial roads, business districts
- Collector roads, bus routes
- Local industrial roadways
- Residential streets, alleys
- Move your cars off the street during parking bans
- Clear your sidewalk as soon as possible, and keep them clear of snow and ice, especially during freeze/thaw cycles
- Work with your neighbours to keep sidewalks clear
- Keep your waste collection areas free of snow and ice
- On City-maintained sidewalks, protected bike lanes and active mobility pathways (including shared use paths) when the conditions require
- As a pre-wetting agent for the sand/salt mix that is dispensed by sanding trucks and sidewalk plows, as it prevents the mixture from freezing prior to being dispensed, results in a more even dispensing of product (less clumping) and improves the adherence of the mixture to road surfaces
- Edmonton has the third largest amount of roads (by kilometres), behind only Calgary and Toronto
- Edmonton is one of the least-dense cities in Canada at 1,266 people per kilometre squared, falling behind Winnipeg (1,520 people/KM2) and even St. Albert (1,364 people/KM2), but ahead of Regina and Saskatoon
- Edmonton has the third largest budget for winter maintenance, behind Montreal and Toronto, but ahead of Calgary
When it starts snowing, how do City crews respond?
The first response to all snowfalls is to apply sand or salt, depending on conditions, to main roads and bus routes. Plowing starts when snow has accumulated on the main roads and the weather forecast calls for continued snowfall.
How does the City prioritize the roads for snow clearing?
A variety of factors are taken into account with a focus on safety, including traffic speed, traffic volume, width of the road, and factors in the road design, for example: are there crossroads or hills present that add a unique safety concern to a segment of road? The road priorities as outlined in the currentand are:
Is there a schedule that shows where plows are or when the main roads are being plowed?
During parking bans, you can use the Snow and Ice Control map to see which phase of the ban streets are part of and the status of clearing as crews complete work.
Where does all the snow go?
On main roads, snow is placed in boulevards or left on roads. In cul-de-sacs, snow is stacked in the centre and removed during a clearing operation. No snow is placed in fields or in parks due to environmental concerns.
Snow that gets removed from roads is trucked to one of four snow storage sites (snow dumps).
Why can't I toss the snow from my walkway/sidewalk/driveway onto the road?
This action violates municipal bylaws and results in a fine of $250, contributes to unsafe driving and walking conditions, increases the cost of providing winter road maintenance and can lead to blocked storm drains. If you do not have room for snow on your property, you can haul it to one of four approved snow storage facilities (snow dumps) in Edmonton free of charge.
When does the City clear bike lanes?
Protected bike lanes are cleared within 24 hours of the end of a snowfall as many of these areas connect with multi-use trails, and are used by many types of users - including pedestrians with strollers, those with mobility devices and cyclists. This level of service is defined in theand .
Painted bike lanes are cleared at the same time as adjacent main roads to ensure all travellers on busy routes are entitled to the same road maintenance standards, regardless of mode. Painted bike lanes are not cleared to bare pavement, but to the same level of service as the road they are on. Some painted bike lanes connecting two segments of protected bike lanes may be cleared a little faster to ensure safe travel between the two protected bike lane areas.
What can I do to help the City during the winter?
Snow clearing is a shared responsibility. In order for roads to be cleared efficiently, Edmontonians and the City are partners in helping achieve safe and livable roads in neighbourhoods in the winter.
Is the City bringing back Calcium Chloride?
Calcium chloride brine is not used as an anti-icing or deicing agent on roads. Calcium chloride with a corrosion inhibitor is currently only used for the following purposes:
How does Edmonton compare to other major cities in Canada in terms of winter operations?
Edmonton has some unique challenges: its climate, population density, and the amount of roads and paths that the City is responsible for clearing.
How do I report icy or snow covered roads to the City?
Using the 311 app or calling 311 is the most effective way to send in a service request to the City. Service requests through 311 are automatically entered into a queue to be prioritized and actioned.
I entered a ticket for road maintenance, but it just was set to "closed". Why?
Some notifications are “closed” if crews have been dispatched to action the concern identified in the ticket. In other cases, the City may receive multiple requests about the same area (duplicate requests). In these cases, the duplicate tickets are closed.
Citywide Parking Ban
- You may continue to park your vehicle on residential roads that do not have ‘Seasonal No Parking’ signs
- Parking garages and public parking lots
- Any road that has been cleared if parking is allowed there normally, including ‘Seasonal No Parking’ areas
- In signed snow and ice alternative parking stalls and lots
- With permission, on surplus parking in a neighbour’s property which has a parking space
- Vehicles shall not be located on the landscaped portion of the yard; and
- Vehicles shall only be allowed on a driveway or within an attached or detached garage
- In Ottawa, the ban is in effect overnight (1-7am) from November 15-April 1
- In Halifax, the parking ban is in effect overnight (1-6am) from December 15-March 31
- In Red Deer, the parking ban is executed by specifically designated snow zones
- Sherwood Park, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina and Toronto all have a snow route parking ban during the winter months in some capacity
What kind of parking ban does Edmonton have during the winter?
The City has the option of implementing a full citywide parking ban that will operate in two phases. During the first phase, major roads will be prioritized, no parking is allowed on arterial roads, roads within Business Improvement Areas, and roads marked with seasonal no parking signage (collector roads and bus routes).
After work on those roads is complete, the City has the option to move to a second phase. At this point, parking would be prohibited on residential and industrial roads. Residents will need to arrange for alternative parking such as parking in their driveway or garage, in surplus parking on a neighbours property (with permission) or on cleared collector roads and bus routes, many of which are within neighbourhoods.
What are the benefits of a citywide parking ban?
A ban will provide clearer roads that are easier and safer to navigate. By not having to move around parked vehicles, operators can blade from curb-to-curb, blading neighbourhoods faster, safer, and more efficiently.
The City heard from the public through engagement that residents want quicker service and clearer roads, especially in their neighbourhoods. To achieve safe travel conditions as quickly as possible, Edmontonians play a key role in supporting City staff and contractors by moving their vehicles off the street during snow plow events.
Where can I park?
The parking ban will operate in two phases, with parking options depending on which phase the ban is in.
During Phase 2 of the citywide parking ban (when crews are clearing neighbourhood roads), alternative parking stalls or lots are available at some public parks, libraries and recreation centres. A full snapshot is available on the interactive map.
Phase 1 Major Roads: Where can I park?
Phase 2 Residential Roads: Where can I park?
Can I park on my lawn if I have no other space to park on my property?
Zoning Bylaw Section 45(7) Prohibited/Restricted Objects in Residential Zones
In the front yard of any site in any residential zone, or in the case of a corner site, in the front yard or the flanking side yard in any residential zone:
How will I know when to move my vehicle? How will the City be notifying the public of the ban?
Sign up for email and text notifications. When a parking ban is called, you will be sent an email or text at the start of Phase 1 Major Roads and if a Phase 2 Residential Roads ban is called you will receive a notification 24hrs in advance of crews clearing your street. A notification will also be sent to end the Parking Ban.
You can also find out about the ban on the news, on the front of ETS buses, on the large digital traffic signs throughout the City, and by following the City on Facebook or Twitter.
The City has developed the Snow and Ice Control map which you can use to find out which roads fall into Phase 1 Major Roads or Phase 2 Residential Roads of the ban. When a ban is declared, the map will be used to show what roads are planned to be completed, and what has been done.
What has the City done to ensure a reasonable distance between people's homes and places they can park their vehicles?
By introducing a two-phase ban, people will be able to park their cars on roads cleared during the first phase at the time the second phase clearing begins. These collector roads and bus routes within neighbourhoods are within roughly 400 metres of most homes in that area, as the City has regulations regarding walking distances to bus stops.
Parking bans would only be in effect for a specific amount of time on residential streets. We strive to have residential roads cleared within 72 hours once signs are placed in neighbourhoods. Watch for signage in your neighbourhood to signal clearing is underway, or check the Snow and Ice Control map.
The parking ban is going to have some growing pains as the public adjusts to these new restrictions. We’re all in this together, and we’ll be listening and learning from the feedback we receive this year.
How long would a ban be in place, knowing the City cant's clear every road in one day?
Phase 1 Major Roads is anticipated to last approximately 48 hours. Phase 2 Residential Roads would last 5 to 7 days overall, but the impact to individual communities is expected to be less time, approximately 72 hours. In each phase, residents would be able to park on the street once it has been cleared.
The City will communicate the start of the Phase 1, Phase 2, and to call off the ban. During the ban, residents may still park on any road segment that has been cleared where parking is normally allowed. Refer to the Snow and Ice Clearing Route Status Map to find out which roads fall into Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the ban.
Every storm is different, and there are a lot of variables like ambient air temperature, pavement temperature and anticipated accumulation. We work to be as efficient as possible, but it's difficult to predict with absolute certainty how much ground we cover in a given day.
How would the ban apply to cul-de-sac residents?
People living in a cul-de-sac would be under a parking ban during Phase 2. This is to ensure that these areas do not become the neighbourhood parking lot during the winter season, that residents can continue to move in and out of their property, and that emergency services, and waste collection can continue to navigate these areas.
While a cul-de-sac wouldn't be receiving snow clearing as part of the parking ban, they will be receiving enhanced snow removal, where crews stack and remove all the snow in the area. This service is significantly above what other residential roads receive.
How much faster would a parking ban allow crews to clear roads?
A parking ban would improve the speed and efficiency of our plow crews. The City’s focus isn’t necessarily speed, it’s safety. A parking ban would deliver safest conditions, while also improving the speed component of clearing.
The City understands that it will take time for all Edmontonians to be made aware of the new parking ban and when it impacts parking on their street. Vehicles parked on the street during the ban will impact the ability of City staff and contractors to deliver high-quality, efficient service. As compliance increases, so will the quality of snow removal service.
Is the parking ban in effect over the weekend?
Yes, crews will be working straight through the weekend, when in previous years they would not be on residential roads during this time.
Does the parking ban last overnight?
Yes. Crews will be working from 7am to 7pm during parking bans.
How is this being enforced, and what about the fines? What happens if my vehicle is parked on a street when the parking ban is in effect?
This winter season, we will be encouraging people to make alternative parking arrangements during parking bans, educating residents of upcoming parking restrictions during parking ban phases, and monitoring compliance. However, issuing fines or tickets remains an active part of our toolkit to ensure compliance. Fines and towing will continue to be used in limited circumstances.
What will this look like in business improvement areas?
We want to minimize the amount of time in which business improvement areas are disrupted from parking restrictions.
Business improvement areas (BIA) would be receiving snow clearing as part of the first phase of the ban, with these areas cleared within 36 hours. With these roads cleared quickly, we hope that the short term impacts of the parking ban would be balanced by improved, safer access to on-street parking in BIA areas.
Current service levels are determined by Council through theand .
What kinds of parking bans do other municipalities have?
Many municipalities have a form of a parking ban during the winter.
For example, Ottawa, Halifax and Red Deer all have some variation of a parking ban similar to what we currently have with our Seasonal Parking Bans.
Do I need to keep my car off the road for the entire parking ban?
Parking is restricted on roads under a specific phase of the parking ban. During Phase 1, you do not need to move your vehicle from residential streets but must follow arterial and collector road restrictions. During Phase 2, parking is restricted on residential roads. You can park your vehicle on roads that have already been cleared, including arterial and collector roads where parking is usually allowed, and on your residential road after it has been cleared.
Overall, we expect Phase 1 to last approximately 48 hours, and Phase 2 would impact residents for about 72 hours per neighbourhood. Refer to the Snow and Ice Control map and additional information at edmonton.ca/safetravels.
If it snows during Phase 1 or 2 of the parking ban, what happens?
If the ban is still in Phase 1, that phase will simply restart. The ban will remain in effect and will be extended accordingly.
If the ban is in Phase 2, the ban will return to Phase 1. Once that work is complete, the teams will return to residential areas, and will start where they left off. Residential areas previously completed in Phase 2 will still be done, but will receive service at the end of the phase. The ban will remain in effect for the duration of the work.
I operate a business and have multiple vehicles at my house. Why are you punishing us small local businesses?
The City understands this may be challenging for some residents and we have not taken the decision to implement a more extensive parking ban lightly. The City heard that Edmontonians would like us to clear snow and ice on residential streets more often. This is why, along with some of the more routine things like clearing snow and ice from sidewalks adjacent to their property, residents play a critical role in the clearing of roads by moving vehicles off of the public road.
The City won't call a parking ban each time we clear snow on your streets - just after big snowfalls, or if conditions like ruts and slush need more work. While bans are weather dependent, the City normally calls about 4 bans each winter.
We can work together to achieve safe travel conditions as quickly as possible.
Would the ban apply to people with accessible parking stalls?
People with accessible parking stalls will not be asked or expected to move their vehicles for snow plow events. If a vehicle remains on the street, operators will continue to do their best to not leave a windrow. We would encourage people with accessible parking stalls to call 311 or use the 311 app to report snow impacting mobility, and crews would return to remove these.
I have accessibility issues and no parking on my property, what can I do with my vehicle?
If you have an accessible parking stall and cannot move your vehicle to help the plow operator clear your stall, they will do their best to minimize any snow left around the vehicle. These stalls would not be subject to the ban, and no tickets would be given to these vehicles. Residents can call 311 to request a spot plow once the vehicle is moved.
We encourage neighbours to make parking spaces available to those in need. This is now possible due to Open Option Parking. By having a multi-phase ban, residents would also be able to park in areas that were cleared during the first phase of the ban, and on any road segment, including residential roads, that have been cleared.
Residents who are registered with DATS or hold a Parking Placard for People with Disabilities can apply for an accessible parking stall by calling 311.
Alternative Parking Options
- Vehicle and contents are left at your own risk.
- Parking enforcement is for the stalls or lots are paused until the surrounding neighbourhood is cleared. This means that residents can park for up to 72 hours total, including overnight, without worrying about parking enforcement.
- These stalls are first-come, first served, and may be occupied by someone who is not participating in the alternative parking program.
- These stalls and lots are offered as a courtesy by the City and/or facility, so availability may change without notice.
- Only stalls marked with a Green P and snowflake icon, can be used during this time. Vehicles parked in other stalls may be subject to enforcement.
What are snow and ice alternative parking stalls?
Snow and Ice alternative parking options, both individual stalls and some full lots, are located at select public parks, libraries and recreation centres, and are available to residents during the 72-hour period of time their neighbourhood is impacted during Phase 2 of citywide parking bans in the winter.
When should these parking stalls or lots be used? Are they just new parking for communities?
These stalls or lots are available for residents to park their vehicle during the 72 hour period that the surrounding neighbourhood is impacted by a parking ban. These stalls will not be subject to parking enforcement until the neighbourhood is cleared.
What do I need to know about these parking stalls or lots?
Key things to note about these stalls or lots include:
How do I determine where parking stalls are located?
Available stalls and lots are identified on the Snow and Ice Control Map. Locations are identified by pins on the map. Selecting a pin will provide details about the location, including the number of stalls available.
How do I know which specific parking stalls are participating once I get to the lot?
Participating stalls will be identified through signage. If the entire lot is participating, the Participating Lot sign will be visible at each entrance to the lot. You may park in any stall in these lots.
What happens if the parking stalls at a location are in use, and I park at another spot that isn't designated for parking bans?
Your vehicle will be subject to warnings, fines and/or towing. Parking restrictions may or may not be identified by other informational signs throughout the lot. You are parking at your own risk, as these locations will be monitored to understand the usage of alternative parking stalls and to monitor compliance with the restrictions of each location.
There was a problem at the location - how do I report it?
Please contact 311 and let the agent know you are reporting a problem with a snow and ice alternative parking location. Please be prepared to provide the specific location and details of the issue.
Residential Snow Clearing
- Maintenance blading after major snowfalls: Crews will be entering residential areas more frequently to maintain smooth packs and eliminate ruts
- During Phase 2 of the citywide parking ban: In the event of major snowfalls, a parking ban will be called to help with snow clearing in residential areas; residential streets are cleared during Phase 2
- Sign up to receive an email or text before each parking ban
- Check the interactive route status map to find out if your street is included in the Phase 1 or 2 ban
When does the City blade neighbourhood roads?
Residential roads receiving blading in two circumstances. These roads are bladed to a level snow pack of about 5 cm, not cleared to bare pavement.
How will I know when crews will be clearing my neighbourhood?
No notice will be provided for regular maintenance work. We recommend that Edmontonians move vehicles off the street during the winter to allow crews to complete more efficient blading.
A minimum of 8 hours notice will be provided before a parking ban takes effect. Make a parking plan for when a parking ban is in effect.
This map also highlights which phase of the ban each road is a part of to help you plan accordingly.
Edmontonians should also watch for signage in their neighbourhoods once clearing is scheduled to remind them to move vehicles off the road.
Will the plows clear all the snow in neighbourhoods?
In neighbourhoods, truck plows blade the snow to a level snow pack. Windrows will not be removed unless they are more than 30 cm high and they block a driveway. Removing all windrows during every blading cycle would require vast increases in personnel, equipment and time. The volume of snow would also exceed the capacity of our snow storage sites. If a windrow has been left behind blocking your driveway and is more than 30cm high, please call 311 to report it to the City or use the 311 app on mobile or desktop.
Will back alleys be cleared?
Alleys will be cleared at the same time as residential roads during the second phase of a parking ban. Alleys will also receive increased maintenance between snow events to keep these snowpacks smooth and avoid ruts.
How do I report snow and ice blocking a catch basin?
Please call 311 or use the 311 app to report a blocked catch basin.
How does the City clear culs-de-sac?
Cul-de-sac clearing is done separately than regular residential blading. It involves both plowing and removing the snow to bare pavement from the entire cul-de-sac area. The program takes between 4-6 weeks to complete.
Due to the size and design of culs-de-sac, smaller snow clearing equipment is required. Culs-de-sac are cleared in response to large storm events (10cm+), or when conditions warrant, on average 1-2 times per year.
How would the new citywide parking ban apply to cul-de-sac residents?
People living in culs-de-sac would be under a parking ban during Phase 2. This is to ensure that these areas do not become filled with vehicles from the neighbourhood, that residents can continue to move in and out of their property, and that emergency services, and waste collection can continue to navigate these areas.
While culs-de-sac wouldn't be receiving snow clearing as part of the parking ban, they will be receiving enhanced snow removal, where crews stack and remove all the snow in the area. This service is significantly above what other residential roads receive.
Are residnets or children allowed to play in the snow piles left after crews stack it?
For safety reasons, residents should not allow children to play in the snow piles when they are present.
Sidewalk and Pathway Clearing
What sidewalks does the City clear?
Sidewalks cleared by the City include those around City facilities or buildings, such as recreation centres or City Hall. The City also clears sidewalks near all public schools.
The majority of sidewalks in Edmonton are cleared by private businesses or homeowners. The City does not have the council approved resources to clear sidewalks in most residential or commercial areas.
Does the City clear bus stops? How quickly?
Yes, our crews are responsible for clearing 5,896 bus stops in the City. Bus stops will be made accessible within 48 hours, crews will return to clear the corners and do touch ups within 5 days of snowfall.
Why are some pathways in parks not maintained in the winter?
Some walkways are designated as “unmaintained” during the winter months. These include walkways within parks where no City programs are offered.
Sidewalks on Public Utility Lots (PUL) rights of way (undeveloped grassland) or adjacent to Municipal Reserves and Parkland are not cleared if they do not connect pedestrians to a major roadway or bus stops near buildings, multi-use paths and river valley trails.
The most common areas that are not maintained in winter are “dead end pathways”. These are paths that do not lead to a public access area, internal paths where there are cleared perimeter walks, and walks that are connected to an unmaintained trail.
Does the City clear in front of Canada Post community mailboxes?
No, the area immediately in front of a community mailbox is cleared by Canada Post. Please note Canada Post only clears the sidewalk area directly in front of the mailbox. It does not do pathways, plowbacks, or sidewalks. More information about community mailbox clearing is available at Canada Post.
Sand and Salt Use
Will the City sand the roads?
The City sands and salts roads and walkways as required with sanding trucks and sidewalk plows that operate as needed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from October to April.
What's in the sand mix?
The sand mix is a mixture of sand, salt, rock chips (which are being phased out of the mix) and calcium chloride brine. The City follows a matrix for determining the specific ratios of sand, salt and chip required to combat icy or snowy conditions depending on the conditions. Edmonton is one of the lowest salt users of Canada’s major cities - salt accounts for only 12 to 18% of the materials applied to the roads annually.
What makes street sand such a dark colour?
The City uses a combination of sand and salt on roads to improve traction and melt snow and ice. The ratio of each differs depending on the conditions, and leads to variations in colour.
Salt used in the winter traction sand mix is pink because of small amounts of potassium chloride (potash) and traces of iron content. When combined with the sand (which also has iron), the mix becomes a brown colour. Also, when we pre-wet our sand mix with liquid calcium chloride the mix can be even darker.
Our sand is actually very clean sand. The darker colour might make it look dirty, but its appearance does not take away from the effectiveness.
How can I get a community sandbox at my community league?
Contact your community league directly and request the sandbox service. The community league can then contact the City to get a sandbox. It’s the league’s responsibility to keep the sandbox full.
Alternatively, individuals can pick up free sand from each of the City’s roadway maintenance yards.
- Arterial and collector roads
- Bus routes
- Windrow free zones
- Cul-de-sacs when excessive snow volumes make it necessary
What are windrows?
A windrow is a pile of snow on the side of the road that was created by snow plowing equipment. City crews remove a single lane width (about 3.5 m) from windrows over 30cm that cross driveways. Residents are responsible for clearing the remaining windrow for additional access to the driveway.
Will the City be collecting the snow piled up in windrows?
The City will be clearing windrows where required from:
On roads designated with the Seasonal Parking ban, smaller equipment will be working with the graders to open up driveway entrances but there may be delays.
In neighbourhoods, windrows will not be removed but crews will work to minimize the height of windrows at driveway entrances. As these windrows can restrict on-street parking, residents are encouraged to park their vehicles on their property (for example, on driveways, parking pads or in garages).
Snow from the windrows created by City crews spilled over onto the sidewalk in front of my house after I already cleared it. Who has to clear it?
City crews, when plowing or blading roads, try their best to ensure that windrows do not encroach on sidewalks. In some cases when there is a lot of snow, some may spill onto sidewalks. The City is provided some leeway by Bylaw Enforcement in this regard, and can encroach on sidewalks approximately 0.5 metres. However, if the spillover impacts use of the sidewalk itself, crews are required to bring in equipment to clear it away.
If windrows are blocking sidewalks or have caused a safety concern, please call 311 to report it to the City or use the 311 app on mobile or desktop, crews will be sent out within 1-2 days.
There is a windrow left in front of my driveway!
The City will only clear windrows in front of driveways if they are higher than 30 cm (12 inches/1 foot). Please keep in mind that the equipment providing this service may be following a few hours behind the blading crews.
Why doesn't the City collect windrows in residential areas?
Removing windrows from all residential roads is not possible with City’s infrastructure and equipment. There are over 4,000 lane kms of residential roads in Edmonton, and removing all windrows from this inventory would be limited by both the time it would take and that we don’t have capacity to hold all that snow. When it melts, it would result in environmental impacts and runoff levels that our snow dump facilities were not designed for.
Does the City consider people with disabilities when placing windrows?
Windrows may create barriers for people with disabilities, so the City offers accommodations for people with disabilities in the snow and ice control program.
The City removes windrows from marked crosswalks. Crews with specialized equipment are working quickly to follow the blading crews, but it may take some time. This equipment does follow behind our graders but not immediately - it can take up to several hours. Residents are encouraged to report any windrows posing accessibility barriers for people with disabilities using 311 online or the mobile app. For further support, call 311.
Residents with disabilities can request a designated accessible parking stall in front of their property. The stall allows the resident to park a vehicle with a disability placard during a Phase 2 parking ban and the crews will accommodate clearing operations and windrows when working in the area. Residents who are registered with DATS or hold a Parking Placard for People with Disabilities can apply for an accessible parking stall by calling 311.