Clearing the Path Toward a Safe & Accessible Winter– by Councillor Josh Matlow, seconded by Councillor Mike Layton
- City Council direct the General Manager of Transportation Services include in the report produced from EX 29.15: Major Snow Event Post-Operational Report:
- Quality of service delivery on sidewalks, roads, and cycling infrastructure
- Timeliness of snow clearing and removal activities
- Prioritizing Community Safety Zones, including School and Senior Safety Zones
- Access to public transit and bus/streetcar shelters
- Windrow clearing
- Improve data displayed on the PlowTO Map website
- City Council direct the General Manager of Transportation Services to provide an immediate strategy for snow clearing and removal operations that addresses, but not limited to, the priorities listed in recommendation 1.
On January 17th, 2022, the City of Toronto received approximately 55 centimetres of snow in 15 hours. Since then, crews have removed and cleared thousands of tonnes and kilometres of snow from our roads, sidewalks, and cycling infrastructure.
While the City of Toronto has undertaken extensive efforts in its snow clearing and removal operations, there have been significant concerns regarding the safety and accessibility. The current service delivery standards for a major snow event have exposed a number of gaps and challenges for our residents and more importantly, those living with mobility challenges and our seniors.
The quality of snow clearance and removal operations have been identified by residents as impassable and hazardous. Moreover, the period of time it took to complete these operations left many without safe options to navigate their communities. In fact, too many sidewalks, streets and cycle infrastructure across our city have still not been cleared. Our most vulnerable road users bore the brunt of this as many were left homebound or forced to commute in conditions that pushed pedestrians into live lanes of traffic. Residents have raised concerns regarding the lack of winter maintenance of community safety zones, local sidewalks, roads, and cycling infrastructure, access to public transit, and a dearth of windrow clearing.
The City’s communication strategies incorporated a variety of mediums, one of the most referenced being the PlowTO Map website. While an asset to the city’s winter operations, the PlowTO Map website has been noted by residents as having deficiencies in the data it presented during the wake of the major snow event. Improvements must be made in order for residents to receive transparent, correct, and helpful data. For example, it is impossible for a resident to distinguish whether or not their local road has been plowed or salted.
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing us all to be outdoors, the City of Toronto must ensure that our city’s roads and sidewalks are accessible, passable and safe for any and all users.
This motion is urgent as we are expecting another 15-30 centimetres of snow this week.