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City pledges 'improved level' of snow clearing this winter

City has purchased new plows and invested in more staff; 'I am confident people will notice the improved level of service this season,' vows mayor
Winter Operations - Nov 2019
Tim Morris, left, and Jason Flemming from the City of Orillia’s Environmental Services and Operations Department stand in front of the two new snow plows purchased by the City as part of its investment in winter operations. City of Orillia photo

With significant investments made into winter operations over the past two years, the City of Orillia is ready to tackle whatever winter sends its way.

Winters in Orillia have become more unpredictable, with an increased mix of snow and rain and more frequent freeze-thaw cycles, resulting in the need to adjust the City’s approach to winter control.  Council approved significant investments, including the purchase of new equipment and additional staff, in order to improve the City’s winter operations.

“Over the past two budget cycles, Council recognized the need to invest in Orillia’s winter control operations. We phased in the resources required to better serve our residents during the harsh winter months and I am confident people will notice the improved level of service this season,” said Mayor Steve Clarke.

“The new weather systems that have seen our average snow fall rise from 8.9 feet over the last 100 years to over 12 feet in recent years is a challenge, but we have taken significant measures to address the new reality.”

Improvements made to the City’s winter operations include:

  • Two new plows.
  • Two new sidewalk machines.
  • A new Business Improvement Area sidewalk machine.
  • Increased fleet replacement, which reduces the downtime associated with mechanical failure.
  • Added four full-time employees to the Roads and Storm Division (these staff are cross-trained to work in the Collection/Distribution Division for water and wastewater operations in the off-season).
  • Increased concentration of salt percentage in sand mixture to reduce the overall snowpack on roads.
  • Allocated additional staff to the night and afternoon shift, which is the best time for snow removal due to the no parking restrictions being in effect.
  • As the City replaces or builds new sidewalks we are adding cement pad bus stops so they can be plowed.

“Throughout the winter months, City operations staff work diligently around the clock to keep our roads and sidewalks up to standard. There are some simple things that residents can do that go a long way to help us complete our jobs in a timely and efficient manner including not parking on the road overnight and keeping sidewalks clear. That said, most of all, please be patient – we are coming,” said Andrew Schell, Director of Environmental Services and Operations.

Help us this winter by keeping the following things in mind:

  • Avoid parking on City streets as much as possible. If you park on a street or in municipal parking lots between the hours of midnight and 7 a.m. you will get a ticket or be towed.
  • Don’t block sidewalks with your vehicle and keep sightlines clear. Vehicles parked in the boulevard must be at least 1.5 metres back from the sidewalk and at least 1.5 metres back from the roadway. 
  • Don’t push snow to the curb; instead try to distribute it to the centre of your property or right hand side.
  • Do not put your garbage, recycling and compost on the road; put it back in your driveway.
  • Make sure sump pumps are not discharging onto sidewalks and roads as they create icy conditions.
  • Educate children not to build snow forts near the road or sidewalks.
  • Wear appropriate footwear to meet the challenging winter conditions.
  • Be patient. City operations staff work 24/7, but it does take time to get around to the 504 road lane kilometres and 120 kilometres of sidewalks within the City.