Snow removal & ice control

It's snow season and we're all in this together! As a community, we can work together to ensure the safety of our sidewalks and roads for residents and visitors. Before, during and after the snow falls, we'll be hard at work moving the snow from roads with our plows and trucks and ask that residents move their vehicles off of the roads, to accommodate swift and efficient plowing. Please be patient as crews clear roads based on priority

Road clearing priority

We clear snow and de-ice approximately 1,639km of lane every snow fall.  Roads are cleared based on their priority status (as set out by Snow and Ice Control Policy).

Find out your road's priority status

​Highway 97 (Harvey Avenue) and Highway 33 are maintained by the Provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Snow Routes

Snow routes  have been established in four areas in Kelowna: Wilden, the Ponds, Magic Estates, Dilworth Mountain, Academy Way, Black Mountain and Kirschner Mountain. During a significant snow event, a snow advisory will be issued and there will be a temporary parking ban on snow route roads. Areas designated as snow routes will not be given any special consideration over other streets. Streets are cleared by their priority classification.

Snow removal from sidewalks

You are responsible for clearing snow from your driveways and the sidewalk fronting your property (within 24 hours, Traffic Bylaw #8120). We are responsible for clearing snow from sidewalks that are on City property. Please do not shovel snow onto the roadway as this has the potential to become a safety hazard.

More information about snow removal & ice control
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:

  • Arterial roads such as Gordon Drive, Springfield Road, and Lakeshore Road
  • Average daily vehicle count more than 15,000    
  • Main route from a neighbourhood
  • Plow/sanding expectation: within 8 hrs. of the end of a snow storm

Priority Two to 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 to Four roads, attention will shift back to Priority One roads.

Priority Two:

  • Collector roads - steep hills, sharp curves, school zones, school and transit bus routes such as Richter Street, Ethel Street south of Springfield, and the Black Mountain area
  • Average daily vehicle count more than 5,000 but less than 15,000
  • Grades more than 10%
  • Bus routes, school zones, town centres, 
  • Emergency vehicle station
  • Plow/sanding expectation: within 12 hrs. of the end of a snow storm

Priority Three includes all other local roads and residentital streets that are flat or have a slight grade.

  • Plow/sanding expectation: within 48 hrs. of the end of a snow storm

Priority Four is all other residentital laneways that provide access to properties.

  • Plow/sanding expectation: during regular working hours

Highway 97 (Harvey Avenue) and Highway 33 are maintained by the Provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

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 that we 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.

​When are bus stops plowed?

Bus stops are plowed immediately following the road plowing.

Who is responsible for removing snow from the sidewalks?

The 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. 

We encourage you to lend a helping hand to neighbours by being Snow Busters or Adopting your Block with your neighbours by pledging to keep your sidewalks clear.

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

No. Under 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.

When does the City use salt?

Depending on temperatures and the accumulation levels of snow and ice, a salt-brine solution may also be used in combination with sand. However, we pride ourselves on being environmentally aware - the anti-icing substance combined with Road Weather Information System means that the amount of salt used throughout the winter is minimal.

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.

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.

When does the City sand the road?

Sanding is restricted to areas where it is needed most such as stop signs, curves, hills and school zones due to the high cost and the damage it can inflict on vehicles. 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, we wet the sand with a chloride solution.

Can we request not to have sanding in our neighbourhood?

No, we have a legal obligation to provide the safest driving conditions possible to all residents, on all public streets.

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, we apply 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 we only has two trucks capable of carrying liquids, it is not possible to do all roads.

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

With approximately 39,000 driveways (residential units that include single family dwellings, duplexes and non-apartment style row houses) in Kelowna, it would be very costly to add additional people and equipment to perform this service. 

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 driveway and the plows will not drag shovelled snow back across your driveway entrance.

What snow removal services are available for seniors or those with mobility challenges?

Residents are encouraged to make snow removal arrangements prior to the start of the winter season.

  • Snow Busters - Ask a neighbour, friends or family to help out. You can nominate them to win Kelowna Rockets tickets through the Snow Busters program.
  • Community Groups - Belong to a community group? Ask other members for assistance or suggestions, or see if you can use their bulletin board or newsletter to post that you’re searching for someone to help.
  • Snow Removal Service Provider - Search the phone book, newspaper or online for a residential snow removal service provider. Residents are encouraged to do their due diligence and interview and select the snow removal provider that meets their needs.

The Seniors Outreach and Resource Centre is seeking volunteers for their Snow Buddies program, where a resident can help a senior in their area. Volunteers will be screened and matched with clients. For more information, please visit their website, or call 250-861-6180.

Why is the snow downtown pushed towards the centre?

In the downtown area, there are not enough locations 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.

What is the Road Weather Information System?

The Road Weather Information System (RWIS) provides up to date information from sensors placed in certain roads throughout the city. These sensors reveal surface and sub-surface temperatures, humidity levels, ambient air temperature and the percentage of anti-icing treatment left on the road. All of this information is used to determine what treatment roads require.

The anti-icing substance consists of a calcium chloride solution that is sprayed onto the road surface. This substance stops ice from forming on the roads and also prevents snow and ice from bonding with the road surface, making it easier to remove. We attempt to apply this substance to roadways before a storm.

Depending on temperatures and the accumulation levels of snow and ice, the calcium chloride solution may also be used in combination with sand. We take pride in being environmentally aware - the anti-icing substance combined with RWIS means that the amount of salt used throughout the winter is minimal.

All winter staff attend a snow and ice training course each year and are certified to operate various pieces of equipment.

All snow removal and ice control preparation is scheduled to be completed by Nov. 1 of each year.

Report a snow or ice concern

Submit a request if you notice a snow or ice concern on a: