Commonly Asked Questions

Commonly Asked Questions

The City of St. John's clears roads in five stages:

  1. Salting: spreading salt on all paved roads and designated sidewalks according to the weather conditions. We use on the average of 30,000 tons of salt per season to maintain the roads. It takes about three hours for the entire city to have a salt application.
  2. Plowing: moving snow to the sides of streets and sidewalks so it is possible for car and pedestrian traffic to resume quickly. There are 60 vehicles for plowing streets and sidewalks (sidewalk plows, graders, truck plows and front-end loaders). Plowing begins as soon as there is 3-5 cm of snow on the ground and continues until all streets are plowed. This can last several hours after the snow stops falling, depending on the snow load. Streets are plowed in order of priority.
  3. Widening: continuing with moving snow to the sides of streets so the driving area of road is wider. Widing starts after the snow fall of a storm has ended and continues for 24 hours. For storms with snow fall greater than 25 cm, or extreme snow accumulations, this time period is extended until all roads have been sufficiently widened.
  4. Blow-back: using a snow blower to move the snow from the street onto open areas such as your front lawn; often occurs during the widening process. We start blow-back operations on multi-lane roads then continue widening based on established priorities.
  5. Snow removal: completely removing snow from streets and sidewalks. Crews of 25 or more heavy equipment operators completely remove snow from the street and sidewalks. Snow removal is usually completed downtown, however any part of the city may be identified for snow removal if there is a significant amount of accumulation in the area.

Ice
Roads
Damage
Sidewalks
Bus Stops and Mailboxes
Parking Bans and Snow Removal

 


ICE
My street is icy. How is that managed?
City crews will complete one application of salt on all streets within three hours of ice conditions. City Crews prioritize which streets to salt and/or plow first based on the approved service standards; we focus first on Priority 1 streets and work through the remainder of the streets in order of priority.
 
Why does the City spray a liquid salt solution on the streets?
A technique using brine (salt water solution), is part of the City’s overall salt management strategy. Brine is applied prior to a snowfall and acts as an anti-icing agent which allows snow clearing equipment to easily remove snow from the road surface.
 
 
ROADS
When will my road be plowed?
Plowing follows the same priority as salting. For snowfalls of 25 cm or less:
  • Within 12 hours after the snow stops all routes will have a minimum of one lane plowed.
  • All driving lanes will be plowed within 24 hours after the snow stops falling.

For snowfalls greater than 25 cm, or high winds and heavy drifting the snow clearing times above may be increased.
 
Is there a way for me to see where the plows are presently working?
Most City snow clearing equipment have an Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) installed. These devices provide real-time tracking information of the equipment. Residents can access the real-time tracking map.
 
My street isn’t cleared yet.  What if emergency vehicles need access?
In the event of an emergency, 911 dispatchers will contact the City’s snow clearing crews to ensure emergency vehicles have an efficient and accessible route.
 
Why does the plow push snow in my driveway?  Who will clear it?
The plow often makes several passes to push the snow back to open catch basins and provide access for emergency vehicles. This means that snow may be pushed into your driveway. This is necessary to help keep the roads safe and clear. Driveway shoveling is the responsibility of residents.
 
The City plow pushed an excessive amount of snow and/or large chunks of ice into my driveway when clearing the street.  Will they come back and remove it?
If the situation exists after the time frames for snow clearing have been exceeded, you can report the issue by calling Access St. John's at 311 or 754-CITY (2489), using the 311 St. John's app, or submitting an Access Request. The issue will be reviewed.
 
Why can’t the City plow the snow into the center of the cul-de-sac rather than pile it up at the end of my driveway?
Children often play on stockpiled snowbanks. This is a serious safety hazard since drivers and/or equipment operators may not see them until it’s too late. Large stockpiles of snow in the middle of a cul-de-sac, in addition to parked cars in cul-de-sacs, create equipment accessibility issues especially for garbage collection and snow clearing equipment. Plowing snow to the center of a cul-de-sac would require driving on the wrong side of the road which could potentially result in an accident. Snow which is stockpiled on asphalt will typically experience some daytime melting due to rising asphalt temperatures during the day, even when the daytime air temperature does not exceed 0°C. The runoff then freezes after sunset resulting in the requirement for additional salt applications.
 
I don’t have anywhere to throw any more snow.  Can I push it out into the street and let the snow plows clean it up?
It is a violation of Section 163.3 of the Highway Traffic Act to throw or push snow into the street. Residents are expected to pile snow on their own property. Residents can call Access St. John's at 311 or 754-CITY (2489) or email accessstjohns@stjohns.ca to report violations.
 
The catch basin by my home is blocked with snow and ice.  How do I get it cleared?
Catch basins are typically opened as the street is cleared by City equipment. However, it is not always possible for City crews to clear all locations when there is rain or significant snow melt expected. Residents and business owners are certainly encouraged to clear the snow/ice accumulation away from the catch basin if it is safe to do so. This would help reduce possible instances of flooding on public or private property.
 
 
DAMAGE
What can I do to protect my property from any damage and ensure snow clearing goes as safely and smoothly as possible?

  • Remove any items which could potentially interfere with snow clearing operations (examples: hockey nets, basketball nets, lawn ornaments).
  • Mark any permanent structures or objects with a reflector that will be visible above the snow.
  • Never park on the sidewalk and when parked in a driveway, make sure your vehicle isn’t hanging over into the right-of-way.

 
My property has been damaged by snow clearing equipment.  What should I do?
Report the damage as soon as possible by calling Access St. John's at 311 or 754-CITY (2489) or emailing accessstjohns@stjohns.ca. The report will be reviewed and followed up according to City processes.
 
The snow plow damaged/broke my City-provided garbage cart, what do I do?
Report the issue to Access St. John’s. They will take your information and send the report for review and follow up.
 
 
SIDEWALKS
When will my sidewalk be plowed?
The majority of designated sidewalks will be plowed within four to seven days after the end of a weather event. The time to complete depends on the amount and type of snow/ice on the ground.
Sidewalk routes must be restarted every time it snows. This may affect timelines.
 
Why are some sidewalks cleared while others are not?
The City has designated 156 km of sidewalk to be cleared on a regular basis during the winter season. These sidewalks are cleared based on priority. 
 

BUS STOPS AND MAILBOXES
Who clears the snow from bus stops and mailboxes?
Metrobus clears snow at serviced bus shelters. For concerns, please call Metrobus at 709-570-2020.
Snow removal around mail boxes are the responsibility of Canada Post. For concerns, please call 1-866-607-6301.
 
 
PARKING BANS AND SNOW REMOVAL
When does the on-street parking ban come into effect?
Typically, the City implements the parking ban in early January and lifts it in early April. The ban may come into effect earlier if there are significant snowfalls that impede the safe flow of traffic. The City will issue media releases and post details on their website.
 
How do I know if my street is in the downtown area or the on-street parking ban area?
Streets in the designated downtown area are outlined on this map. All other streets fall in the on-street parking ban area, except for those with snow route designationNew for 2019 the Downtown Early Morning Parking Ban is in effect on Water Street (Prescot to Waldegrave) and Duckworth Street (Cochrane to New Gower) from 4 to 6 a.m. daily. The parking restriction area is marked with signs attached to nearby poles and those parked in violation will be ticketed or towed and impounded.
 
I have a residential parking permit for downtown; does this exempt me from the snow clearing by-law?
No. The Snow Clearing By-Law applies to all vehicles, and your vehicle must be removed from your street when snow removal operations are scheduled for it.
 
How can I find out when overnight snow removal is taking place on my street?
Snow removals are usually scheduled overnight between the hours of 12:30 and 7:30 a.m. when there is the least amount of activity. Anyone can learn when and where snow removal is scheduled by: 

  • signing up for email notifications
  • checking the snow removal map
  • calling Access St. John’s  at 311 or 576-SNOW (7669).
  • checking for signs placed at the ends of each street where snow will be removed.

 
Where can I park when overnight snow removal is scheduled on my street?
If you do not have a private driveway, you can use a public parking lot. The City has several parking lots available during the overnight hours for residents to use between the hours of 9:00 PM and 7:00 AM each night. They are:

  • City Hall parking garage (excluding the rooftop), 8 New Gower Street
  • Railway Coastal Museum, 495 Water Street
  • Bannerman Park parking lot, off Bannerman Road
  • Parking lot at 89 Hayward Avenue (behind the basketball court)
  • Parking lot at Hutchings Street (underneath the overpass)
  • Parking lot across from 40 Mundy Pond Road (the H.G.R. Mews Community Centre)

You may also park in a downtown parking zone other than the one your parking permit indicates. This is acceptable for the designated snow removal night only. Please ensure the alternate street is not scheduled for snow removal operations that night as well. Your vehicle will not be ticketed on that night for parking outside your permitted area.
 
What do I need to know when daytime snow removal is taking place on my street?
Signage will be placed on either end of the street where snow is being removed indicating the street is temporarily closed to traffic while snow removal operations proceed. Access St. John’s is informed of which streets are closed for daytime snow removal operations.
Vehicle owners at home during the day are encouraged to move their vehicles to provide easier access for effective snow removal operations. Vehicles parked on the street during daytime snow removal operations will not be ticketed or towed. 
 
I live outside the downtown area and my street hasn’t been widened this winter. When can I expect this to be done?
Streets are ranked on a priority basis for snowblower operations to ensure residents experience the least possible travel disruptions. Operations begin on the multi-lane routes such as Kenmount Road, Topsail Road, Columbus Drive, etc. and next move to the main collector roads before getting to the residential areas. During the winter, snow accumulation may require equipment to return to the highest priority areas several times for blowback operations before reaching the residential areas of the City.