Modern snow removal

Am I alone in feeling that the bigger Ottawa gets the worse basic services are?


Even keeping the sidewalk plowed AT A MAJOR TRANSIT STATION at morning rush hour seemed beyond the City’s ability. See these pic at LeBreton Station on Albert. One narrow cattle path. Transit users were holding onto the chain link fence — missing only the barb wire — to try to stay upright.


When designed I told Maniconi face to face that OC risked looking bad if they couldn’t persuade the City to focus on the difficult to plow / difficult to maintain ped traps at the station. Yet transit seems to suffer first in any snowfall.

I wonder what we would do if our policy was to discourage transit use?


Why on earth doesn’t Ottawa have a major snowfall protocol? Regretfully they’d term it a snow emergency status, but Washington does it, New York does it, Boston does it, and Ottawa … says carry on !

A protocol might do some simple things, like forbid through car traffic on Albert and Slater in the downtown. Those garages with multiple entrances would close the entrances on Albert and Slater and let traffic in and out on Queen or Laurier. We can forbid parking on Albert and Slater on Canada Day, just so people can flee the downtown quickly in their cars … but not during a snow storm.

And we could suggest better courses of action than this: accident in centre car lane on Slater. Police parks in car curb lane. Forcing all traffic into the bus lane, slowing down all the buses. Traffic backs up into intersection. Gridlock ensues. Better in a snow emergency to keep cars out of the bus lanes, and off Albert and Slater.

One of the vaunted advantages of buses over streetcars is their flexibility to go around accident scenes. And with a high cell phone penetration in our affluent market, most users could easily be informed of last minute detours. Instead, we seem to let buses line up forever on the routes that don’t work.

Rant over.

6 thoughts on “Modern snow removal

  1. But but but… we can’t slow down the cars, and it’s too late to change the business plan… why are people complaining? The City is managing snow plowing according to standards that aren’t that different than the stated standards… Please pay attention to the diversion created by the Where’s My Plow? app… once we fix that, all will be bliss in our Autowan utopia… any attempts to change the status quo will lead your municipal government to dismiss the electorate for incompetence in accepting snow clearance standards.

  2. So, what do you say to Councillor Jan Harder’s complaints that Barrhaven ward is not getting its fair share of snow removal service?

    Here is what she says in her most current newsletter:
    E-News Blast for
    February 18, 2016
    SNOW! SNOW! SNOW! Thank you for your patience and feedback as we have continued to dig out from the “Storm of the Century” this week. I have heard from many of you on your frustrations with the slow response to plow our residential streets. I will continue to fight for equal service in Barrhaven and work to ensure that we get the same plowing as all other neighbourhoods in the City.

  3. I live in one of the town homes between Albert and Preston on the south side of Albert. We have a very wide walk in the front of homes that is accessible by a ramp at the corner. Just walk until you see the stairs that take you down to the Lebreton transit way. The walkway is always cleared and salted and stoned for traction. I’m not sure what the City would say if hordes of people started using the walkway all the time, but on difficult days it’s an option. Perhaps if it became a real problem it would spur complaints to the mayor and city council about the relocation of a major transit station to a street where all the inhabitants have to put up with excessive traffic and noise from 2000 buses daily plus snow removal at 4:30 a.m.

  4. The snowclearing by the City is impressive in comparison with many US cities, but they rarely get hit in the same way as Ottawa by heavy snowfalls. Here in Ottawa, what I notice is that I se little evidence during the snowfall itself on last Tuesday of any snowclearing by the City on most major arteries I drove on (St Laurent, Innes Road, Industrial Avenue, Coventry Road) though these were ploughed by the following day. This is despite what the City says publically that 600 odd machines are clearning the snow. I live downtown, and all the streets were a mess. The street was ploughed by Wednesday and the sidewalks by Friday.

    The snowbanks are still massive. Only Elgin Street has had its snowbanks removed, last Friday I think. All side streets are still uncleared virtually a week later. If anyone thinks Barhaven is neglected, come and walk around Centretown! It usually takes two weeks before snow banks are cleared on my street.

    For OC transport, why do they not have their own dedicated snowclearing crew? All that said, clearly OC Transport cannot cope with big snowfalls of 300mm or more – in my mind the City knew a heavy snowfall of at least 300mm was coming and should have alerted everyone that their system cannot cope and recommended that people should avoid travelling to work.

    In 20 years of living in the city I rarely see the City clearing during snow storms save the highways. Rather they wait till the snowstorm ends, then work at night to clear main streets, then hope that the snow will melt, and if it doesn’t then clears the snow slowly over a 2-3 week period. I can assure everyone the inner city neighbourhoods are most definitely not priorised for snow clearing – usually it feels the opposite. I often observe some suburban areas fully cleared long before downtown.

  5. The morning those photos were taken, the sidewalk on the west side of Preston was beautifully plowed – that sidewalk serves exactly one bus.

    Even when the stretch from Preston to the eastbound Lebreton station is plowed, they leave a lot of snow at the edges. A large number of people move from that stop to the stop for the 8 going to Hull. There is not enough width to walk against that traffic or get by the crowd waiting to cross at the corner. All the snow needs to be removed from that constricted area.

    I have taken to using the upper walkway that Glen Buchanan describes.

  6. Bang on, I was thinking the exact same thing slogging through that mess the morning AFTER the snow fall, and watching people struggle with massive banks while boarding busses, it’s not that hard to figure out that main transit hubs like Lebreton need to be made a priority. I was starting to believe the current ward councilors were going to make these matters a priority but it seems they’re falling short. The constant answer seems to be “staff have been alerted”…. big whup!

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