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Snow Removal - Frequently Asked Questions

What are the sanding/plowing priorities?

When are bus stops plowed out?

What is the City's Snow Budget?

Does the City reduce service when the budget is spent?

How does the City determine the level of snow removal service?

Why doesn't the City salt icy intersections?

Why doesn't the City sand the entire road?

Why can't the sand particles be smaller or larger?

Can we request not to have sanding in our neighbourhood?

Why can't the City remove the snow they put in my driveway entrance?

Why does the City spray liquid on the roads?

Who is responsible for removing snow from the sidewalks?

May I place the snow from my drive onto the travelled portion of the street?

Why is the snow downtown plowed to the centre of the street?

Where do I place my waste & recycling carts during winter months?

What are the sanding/plowing priorities?

Sanding and plowing priorities are based on the volumes of traffic, types of traffic and the steepness of the terrain.

  • Priority One roads are arterials such as Gordon Drive, Springfield Road, and Lakeshore Road. These areas are sanded within four hours of the completion of a snow storm and plowed within 12-48 hours of a major storm.
  • Priority Two road are collectors, steep hills, sharp curves, school zones, school and transit bus routes such as Ritcher Street, Ethel Street south of Springfield, and the Black Mountain area. These areas are sanded within six hours of the completion of a snow storm and plowed within 36-72 hours of a major storm.
  • Priority Three roads are all the residential streets that are flat or have a slight grade. These areas are sanded within 24-48 hours of the completion of a snow storm. Plowing is accomplished using the underbody plows on the sand trucks.
  • Priority Four is all other residential laneways and will be sanded after all other priorities and during working hours.
  • Highway 97 (Harvey Avenue) and Highway 33 are maintained by the Provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.   

Priority Two - Four roads will not be serviced until service levels of Priority One roads are achieved. If another storm occurs prior to completion of Priority Two - Four roads, attention will again shift to Priority One roads.

 

When are bus stops plowed?

Bus stops are plowed immediately following the road plowing.

What is the City's snow budget?

The budget for snow and ice removal in Kelowna is $1.4 million. This allows the City to respond to snow and ice events with sand and plow trucks, graders, sidewalk plows and hand clearing at key locations such as bus stops. On average there are 30 snow and ice events per year in Kelowna. 

Does the City reduce service when the budget is spent?

No. The City maintains the same level of service. On years when snow and ice control costs exceed the budget, the additional services are paid by reserve funds.

How does the City determine the level of snow removal service?

Council adopted a Snow and Ice Control policy which outlines the level of snow removal service the City will provide during snow and ice events. The document details all aspects of snow control including street priorities, plowing, salting, sanding, de-icing and sidewalk clearing.

Why doesn't the city salt icy intersections?

While salt acts as a deicer around the freezing point, it is not effective below -6 degrees Celsius. Liquid magnesium chloride only works until -12 degrees Celsius. Spreading either of these chemicals below their active temperatures only results in accumulating more ice on the road surface.

Why doesn't the City sand the entire road?

Because of the high cost of sanding and the damage it can inflict on vehicles, sanding is restricted to areas where it is needed most such as stop signs, curves, hills and school zones. However, during icy periods, sand is used on all sections of the road. Winter sand also contributes to very poor air quality in the spring.

Why can't the sand particles be smaller or larger?

In order for sand to be effective it must be large enough to provide tire traction. If the sand is too fine it will blow off the road surface before it has a chance to become embedded in the snow and ice. If the grains are too large, they can cause considerable damage to vehicles and windshields. To help the sand stick to ice, the City wets the sand with a chloride solution.

Can we request not to have sanding in our neighbourhood?

No, the City has a legal obligation to provide the safest driving conditions possible to all citizens, on all public streets.

Why can't the City remove the snow they put in my driveway entrance?

Because of the large number of driveways in the city, it would be very costly to add additional people and equipment to perform this service. Remember, when shovelling your driveway, always pile the snow on the left side of the driveway (when facing the property). This will give you a better line of vision as you are exiting your drive and the plows will not drag your shovelled snow back across your driveway entrance.

Why does the City spray liquid on the roads?

When the forecast calls for a greater than 70 per cent chance of snow, or when the temperatures mean icy roads could develop, the City applies liquid magnesium chloride or liquid sodium chloride to some of the main arterial roads and hillsides. These liquids prevent snow from bonding to the road surface and make it easier to plow the roads clear. As the City only has two trucks capable of carrying liquids, it is not possible to do all roads.

Who is responsible for removing snow from the sidewalks?

The City's Traffic Bylaw #8120, Section 2.5.1, requires the owners or occupiers of property to remove snow and ice from the sidewalk(s) bordering their property within 24 hours. When 5 cm (2") or more snow is received in one snowfall, the City performs an in-kind service and will plow sidewalks to one plow width. However, this does not relieve the property owners/occupiers of their legal responsibility to clear sidewalks along their property.

May I place the snow from my driveway onto the travelled portion of the street?

No. Under the City's Traffic Bylaw #8120, Section 2.5.3, pushing snow out onto the road surface is a punishable offence. It creates a potentially dangerous situation for motorists and you could be held liable if an accident was caused by the buildup of snow.

Why is the snow downtown plowed to the centre of the street?

In the downtown area there are not enough location where large accumulations of snow can be placed without impeding traffic. The snow is plowed to the centre of the street where it can be picked up and hauled away during the night shift hours.

Where do I place my waste & recycling carts during winter months?

As per the Regional District website:

  • Find or clear an unobstructed site to put your carts out for collection.  It's the responsibility of the resident to clear appropriate space at the curb/roadway in front of their property for placement of carts.
  • Put carts as close as possible to the street, without obstructing the street, sidewalk or bike lane. Often placing your carts on either side of your driveway allows for greater ease for the collection trucks and you.
  • Keep carts off the travelled portion of the roadway so as not to interfere with snowplows. Do not place carts in a location where the snow plow will hit them.
  • The cart should be no closer than three feet from any obstacle, parked vehicle or other cart - an arm's length spacing is required between each cart.  When considering cart placement it's important to note that the automated arm on the collection truck can only reach a maximum of eight feet from the truck, and up to one foot off the ground.
  • Do not place carts behind or on top of snow banks.
  • Please have your carts out for collection by 7:00 am on your collection day.  Avoid placing your carts out the night before collection and bring them away from the road as soon as possible to avoid interfering with snow plows often working in the very late or early morning hours to clear our roadways.
  • Clear your cart of snow and ice to ensure the lid opens when the cart is tipped into the truck.
  • General Safety:  As the waste collection carts are equipped with wheels, please use extra caution when wheeling them in snowy and icy conditions.  

For more information, visit the Regional District of Central Okanagan website.

Contact Us

For general inquires, call 250 469-8600. 

Report a Problem by filling out an online service request.

 

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