Snow Removal FAQs

​Which streets get plowed first and why?

Streets designated as "priority" are cleared first, then crews take care of the remainder of the streets. Clearing Chatham-Kent's 3,500 km of roads requires planning and prioritization to make sure the most citizens can have clearer roads in the shortest possible time. Each road is part of a predetermined route to ensure maximum use for the 78 pieces of snow clearing equipment.

Each route is made up of a street list starting with the priority roads. Priority roads carry the higher volumes of traffic and are most easily identified as main roads or secondary collector roads. These are the roads motorists use to get to business areas, hospitals and in and out of the city. Public and school bus routes are also considered in the first round of snow removal. The other roads are primarily residential or secondary routes and these are systematically plowed after the "priority" routes are completed.

Most routes are assigned to one snow clearing unit, but in the case of the core area or multi-lane roads, more units are provided. Public Works road crews have a detailed list of streets in their "route" to help ensure that all are cleared. The snow clearing equipment is tracked using global positioning.


Why are cul-de-sacs the last to be plowed?

Cul-de-sacs are plowed during the local street plowing process. Occasionally regular plow equipment cannot fit in the limited space and smaller plow equipment may be required. Cul-de-sacs have lower daily traffic volumes which a lower priority. 


Who determines which streets get plowed first?

Chatham-Kent follows the standards for winter maintenances established by the province. Roads are categorized into five main classes. Class 1, 2 and 3 roads, which include main and some secondary collectors, and larger rural roads take first priority. Classes 4 and 5, which include rural and local streets and cul-de-sacs, have less priority.


When are salt and sand used on roads?

Salt use is kept to a minimum but is required to prevent the formation of ice or to melt existing ice. It is spread only on paved roads.  We use modern technology in the application of this material and keep up-to-date on new developments. Salt usage is tracked and reduction measures are implemented as appropriate. Our public works staff routinely examines information on alternative de-icing and anti-icing technologies. The goal is to be proactive in this area recognizing that the safety of city streets during slippery conditions must not be jeopardized by the use of alternative products.

Sand can be used on snow-packed local streets at intersections, curves and hills. We typically don't sand the entire street.


Why are there roads that do not receive winter maintenance?

There a few roads that have been identified as low traffic with no residents. To control spending, these roads do not receive winter maintenance. These roads are clearly signed and motorists use them at their risk.


When does the municipality declare a snow emergency?

The Mayor, Chief of Police Services and General Manager of Infrastructure and Engineering Services can declare a snow emergency. This places parking bans on the roads to allow the winter maintenance equipment access to the roads and provides room to push the large volumes of snow to the side of the roadway to be picked up later. As a rule of thumb, declaring a snow emergency will be considered when there is a forecasted 20cm of snow with 40km/h winds. The average cost for winter maintenance for a 20 cm winter event is $500,000.


Who removes the snow from sidewalks?

Chatham-Kent provides mechanical snow clearance on the 410 km sidewalk network with a mix of municipal staff and contracted service providers. For more information, visit our page on Winter Control.

Owners and occupants of any property outside of the designated Downtown Business Areas (see by-law and map) must:

  • Salt and/or sand all sidewalks that abut their property within 24 hours after they observe that ice has formed.
  • Salt, sand, or salt and sand all sidewalks that abut their property within 24 hours after the Municipality releases a public notice that there is a substantial probability of ice forming. The Municipality will be conducting weather monitoring and will deliver these notices through our News and Media Release page and social media.

Why haven't the bus stops been cleared?

The bus stops with a shelter are cleared of snow by the bus service provider. The bus terminal in Chatham is cleared by our Public Works Department. Other bus stops are not cleared of snow by the municipality.


Why doesn't the municipality clear walkways?

To control costs, walkways, paths and sidewalks, not within a road allowance and running parallel to a highway will not receive any winter control, such as plowing. This will include but is not limited to paths in parks.


Does the municipality come back to remove snow its plows have dumped in my driveway?

Owners and/or occupants of residential and business properties are responsible for keeping driveways clear down to the street. Because street plowing operations push snow from the road to the boulevard, this does fill in driveways. Unfortunately, the municipality does not have the resources to come back to remove snow left by its plows at the end of driveways.


How come the plow damages my sod every year and when is it going to be repaired?

Sod damage could be the result of either the plow operator having difficulty finding the sidewalk or the edge of the road under a blanket of snow, or the ground not being frozen.

Once a path is cleared, subsequent trips by the sidewalk plow are made easier. If the sod was damaged during the first pass of the season then the damage may not be discovered until the snow melts. The cost to repair sod damage is relatively minor. We have found that homeowners will repair the damage in front of their property before the municipal crews arrive. This is a tremendous help because municipal staff typically don't repair sod damage until May when the summer seasonal workforce is in place.


Is it okay to push snow onto the roadway or to the boulevard area across the street?

Under the Highway Traffic Act, placing snow or ice on a roadway is prohibited. 


What if I am unable to clear the snow from my property because of age or disability?

Unfortunately, snow removal services for seniors and individuals with disabilities are not available from municipal crews. You may be able to get assistance from a family member, a friend or a neighbour. Many local community groups and churches have volunteers who will lend a helping hand. Several private snow clearing firms also provide this service.


The snowbank at the corner is too high and I cannot see oncoming traffic. What can be done?

Every attempt is made to keep snowbanks at corners to a minimum. Special concerns should be directed to a Customer Service Representative by calling 519-360-1998 or email ckinfo@chatham-kent.ca.


My mailbox has been damaged by the plow. What can be done?

If the mailbox was physically hit and damaged by the snow clearing equipment, the municipality will provide a new mailbox but it may not an exact replacement of the existing mailbox. If the mailbox is knocked over by the snow being pushed by the equipment, then the municipality will not replace the box. Concerns should be directed to a Customer Service Representative by calling 519-360-1998 or email ckinfo@chatham-kent.ca.


How much snow does Chatham-Kent receive?

On average, Chatham-Kent receives just over 79 centimetres (31 inches) with 22 days of snowfall annually each winter. A major snowfall can produce an accumulation of 20 centimetres (8 inches) of snow with large snowdrifts from the high winds. The winter maintenance cost for a 20cm snow event is estimated at $500,000.

There are circumstances with high winds or below freezing temperature and freezing rain without snowfall where winter maintenance equipment is still needed to clear snowdrifts and remove ice.


What can I do to help?

  • Be patient. In heavy snowfalls, it takes us longer to get all our streets cleared.
  • Be a good neighbour. Help those who may not be able to shovel their driveways and sidewalks.
  • Don't park on the street during or immediately following a snowfall if plowing is still needed. Also, please do not park your vehicle at the very end of a driveway or across the sidewalk/boulevard area. Public Works operators are not able to do their job properly if there are parked vehicles in the way.
  • Clear snow and ice from your driveway. Please do this right to the street, that is, across the boulevard area adjacent to your property. The municipality also recommends that you sand or salt your driveway, particularly if there is a chance it might be used by others walking by.
  • Keep driveways clear of any shoulder snow accumulations from street or sidewalk plowing.
  • Don't place snow from sidewalks or driveways on the street or sidewalks because it creates a hazard for vehicles and pedestrians. Anyone having questions or concerns, or wishing to report a problem, should call a Customer Service Representative at 519-360-1998 or email ckinfo@chatham-kent.ca.