Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow continues to fly in 2014

The City’s Snow and Ice Control program continues to be on the forefront of most Calgarians minds since the blizzard in early December. We rang in 2014 with a few more flurries which may have you wondering how The City’s Transportation Department will contend with the 60 plus centimetres (and counting!) of snow that’s fallen.

There’s a lot of information out there about Snow and Ice Control, and it’s hard to keep it all straight.

Here’s a couple of key questions answered we’ve heard from Calgarians through 311 and social media about what’s going on right now moving through the snow:

Is The City over budget for the winter?
No. Although the month of December brought record breaking snowfall (December saw more snow than we’ve seen in over a century), we did not break the bank cleaning it up. We’ve now started a new fiscal cycle with the start of 2014, which means we are well prepared to keep up with the rest of winter. Council and Administration have worked together to ensure that the Snow and Ice Control budget is well funded to address the needs of Calgary’s winter seasons.

How much does Snow and Ice Control cost me as a Tax Payer?
The budget for Snow and Ice Control is $34 million, if you divide that by the number of homes in Calgary which is approximately 500,000 that equals approximately $68 per year. This breaks down to roughly 36 cents per day in a six month winter season or around 18 cents a day for the year.

Why hasn't the snow from my residential roadway been removed?
The City of Calgary’s Snow and Ice Control plan doesn’t typically include snow removal on residential roadways. Snow removal is a very costly process, which involves up to five pieces of equipment. Please watch this video for a full account of snow removal.

In a typical season, The City will remove snow from major roadways and bus routes. However, this season, crews are removing snow from residential roadways across Calgary. According to the Snow and Ice control plan, City crews clear snow from residential routes, meaning roadways are “flatbladed” to minimize ruts and make roadways passable.

As of January 4, 2014, City crews began removing snow from residential roadways to address the most recent blast of winter that blew in this past weekend.

Why doesn't The City use Contractors to help with snow removal?
We do. The City does use contractors to assist with Snow and Ice Control throughout the season, especially with snow removal. These contractors have an indemnified contract with The City, meaning they are properly insured in case any City infrastructure should be damaged while the contractor is working.

This season we have contracted more equipment to assist us with snow removal across Calgary, especially in areas that were hardest hit by recent storms.

Do some quadrants get addressed before others?
No. The City of Calgary does not give one quadrant preferential treatment over the others. We have crews addressing the snow throughout the city before, during and after the snow flies. In some instances we have allocated extra equipment to certain communities based on snow accumulations however this does not mean snow clearing operations have stopped in other communities. From January 1 to January 6, Roads received a high number of Service Requests.

Can you plow my alley?
During a typical Snow and Ice Control season, The City does not plow alleyways. Our Snow and Ice Control plan states that crews will focus on roadways with the most amount of traffic in a priority sequence.

As we have received more snow then a typical Calgary winter, the Transportation and Waste and Recycling business units have been working together to plow alleyways throughout the city where snow accumulations are exceptionally high. Roads crews will continue to address alleyways throughout the season, however this will take time.

There are several ways Calgarians can stay informed with up-to-date information, such as The City of Calgary’s Road condition map found at, or by contacting 311. Smartphone users can also download The City’s Road Conditions App for free on iTunes.


  1. read your own policy…it includes residential streets after 5cm!

  2. Public sidewalks are the responsibility of the city as much as the roads. It would be great if the sidewalk on the southside of 80th towards Saddletown circle was cleared...its only been done once (back in November) and that was when I complained to 311.

    1. Public sidewalks adjacent to people's home are the responsibility of the home owners to clear. I have called in many who let the snow remain on the public sidewalks until it turned into dangerous ice.

  3. Snow clearing in Calgary is literally a joke. It seams like every tenth truck on the road is a City of Calgary vehicle yet I haven't seen one with a plow on it. Why not equip your existing fleet with a few snow plows based on the manpower snow clearing could happen pretty efficiently and cost effectively.

    I am concerned that the lack of snow clearing borders on neglect for those in our city without access to a 4x4 because that what it takes to get around some of our streets even today.

    I can't image what your waste/recycling guys are putting up with but come on!! Do something about this mess long term!!

    kind regards.