Bike lanes are cleared at the same time as the closest street. The downtown bike network is cleared within 24 hours of the end of a snowfall.
When the snow flies, the City works hard to keep Edmonton’s streets safe. But citizens have a role to play too. Find out more about how the City responds to snow on major roads and in your neighbourhood.
The first response to all snowfalls is sanding of the main roads and bus routes. Plowing starts when 3 cm of snow has accumulated on the main roads and the weather forecast calls for continued snowfall.
Winter road maintenance is done on a roadway priority basis in the following order listed in Policy C409.
- Freeways, arterial roads, business districts and bus lanes
- Collector / bus routes
- Local industrial roadways
- Residential streets, alleys (bladed to level snow pack)
Sign up for email notifications so you’ll know as soon as a parking ban is declared. You can also find information about parking bans:
- On edmonton.ca
- On the City of Edmonton Facebook and Twitter pages
- On roadside digital messaging boards
- On ETS buses
- In local media
Seasonal parking bans go into effect with at least 8 hours’ notice.
The fine for violating a parking ban is $50. Vehicles may also be tagged and towed, and the owner is responsible for impound fees.
The City sands roads and walkways as required with sanding trucks and sidewalk plows that operate as needed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from October to April.
The sand mix is a mixture of sand, salt, rock chips (which are being phased out of the mix) and calcium chloride. Edmonton is one of the lowest salt users of Canada’s major cities - salt accounts for only 12 to 18% of the materials applied to the roads annually.
The City uses a combination of sand-salt on roads to improve traction and melt snow and ice. The ratio of each differs depending on the conditions, and leads to variations in colour.
Salt used in the winter traction sand mix is pink because of small amounts of potassium chloride and traces of iron content in the sodium chloride salt. When combined with the sand (which also has iron), we then get a brown colour. Also, during low temperatures, we pre-wet our sand mix with liquid calcium chloride, which makes the mix look even darker.
Our sand is actually a very clean sand (less than 4% fines); the darker colour might make it look dirtier, but its appearance should not take away from the effectiveness of our winter sand.
You can track plowing progress on priority routes (arterial roads and collector/bus routes) on the major roads plowing map at edmonton.ca/plowmap. The map is activated when approximately 10 cm of snow has accumulated on Edmonton roads. When active, the map is updated three times daily at 6am, 3pm, and midnight.
A windrow is a pile of snow on the side of road that was created by snow plowing equipment. Windrows that block driveways and are higher than approximately 30 cm are cleared by the City. Shorter windrows are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner.
In neighbourhoods, truck plows blade the snow to a level snow pack. The windrows will not be removed unless they are more than 30 cm high and they block a driveway. Removing all windrows during every blading cycle would require vast increases in manpower, equipment and time. The volume of snow would also exceed the capacity of our snow storage sites.
Neighbourhood blading begins when about 5 cm of snow has accumulated. Like garbage collection, neighbourhood blading operates on a weekly schedule throughout the winter. Neighbourhood roads are bladed to a level snow pack of about 5 cm.
If crews are not able to maintain a 5 cm snowpack because of excessive snowfall, then plowing to bare pavement may occur (this is very rare because the snow is bladed several times during the winter).
Sign up for email notifications and be the first to know when a neighbourhood blading cycle begins.
Neighbourhood blading will be on a set day for each area between Monday and Friday, much like garbage collection. Find your “snow day” at edmonton.ca/blading or call 311.
If crews are unable to complete areas on their assigned day then they will return on the weekend to finish blading. Watch edmonton.ca and social media for information on weekend blading.
The schedule and updates will let you know when to move your vehicle off the street. Then crews can do the best job possible and your vehicle won’t be stuck behind a windrow.
No. While some equipment may be redeployed to priority routes, blading will continue in neighbourhoods.
The City does not plow down to bare pavement on neighbourhood streets, but instead smooths the snow with blades into a 5 cm (or less) snow pack on which vehicles can drive. It would take six weeks to plow down to bare pavement on every residential street in Edmonton, and the cost to taxpayers would be very high.
Not all roads in a neighbourhood are bladed at once, but they will be done. Roads are bladed to a 5 cm snow pack, so there will still be snow on bladed roads.
Different equipment is used to clear cul-de-sacs, so they may not be cleared on the same day as the rest of the neighbourhood, but they will be cleared within a week.
Sometimes snow piles are left behind, especially in cul-de-sacs. Piles left may or may not be cleared, depending on the size of the pile. Snow piles will be removed if they significantly narrow the road and create unsafe driving conditions.
Back alleys are the same priority as residential roads and are not bladed until all the higher priority roads are completed.
For roads that are adjacent to collector/bus routes (where the Seasonal Parking Ban is implemented), alleys will be bladed the night prior to the start of the parking ban so that residents have access to their rear garages/parking sites. For residential roads, alleys will be bladed on the same day that the roads are bladed.
Residents are encouraged to do their part by not parking on the road or next to windrows. Keeping your vehicle off of the road gives our crews space to blade down snow on more narrow residential roads.
Residents must not shovel any snow onto the roadway. As stated in Part III - Sidewalks and Boulevards, section 48 Materials on Sidewalks/Roadways of Traffic bylaw 5590:
If you live on a Seasonal 'No Parking' Route, your vehicle must be moved when a ban is declared and stay off of the route until such time as the ban has been lifted.
If there are windrows left at the curb side, please clear a spot for yourself so your car does not obstruct traffic. Narrowing the road by parking cars far from the curb can obstruct transit and emergency services. If your vehicle obstructs traffic, you may be tagged and towed.
You can check our online Neighbourhood Blading Schedule for up-to-date scheduling information. Message signs will also be located throughout the City to keep residents informed.
If a car is abandoned and needs to be moved, please do not call emergency services, the police, or 311.
If a car is not moved when plows arrive, we will plow around it, leaving it behind a windrow. If a grader cannot access the road, we will move the car. We will not leave the road unplowed.
No, you don’t have to move your car, but it will help crews do a quality job. Please call 311 so roadways staff are informed of your situation.
In extreme situations, it may be necessary to declare a total parking ban so that crews can move effectively and efficiently through neighbourhoods. Should this happen, the same protocols for declaring a bus route parking ban will apply and enforcement will take place to maintain the safety and mobility of Edmontonians.
Even if you generally park on the street during the winter, you should move your car to an alternate location while crews are blading in your area. Please don't park beside a windrow as this obstructs traffic and limits accessibility for vehicles, transit and emergency vehicles.
The City will only clear windrows in front of driveways if they are higher than 30 cm (one foot). Please keep in mind, though, that in some cases when skid steers are required to help reduce the size of windrows in front of driveways, the equipment may be following a few hours behind the blading crews.
City crews, when plowing or blading roads, try their best to ensure that windrows do not encroach on sidewalks. In some cases when there is a lot of snow, some may spill onto sidewalks. Roadway Maintenance is provided some leeway by Bylaw Enforcement in this regard (0.5 metres); however, if the spillover impacts use of the sidewalk itself, crews are required to bring in equipment to clear it away.
If the problem is communicated to the City through 311, the call will be dispatched directly to the District responsible and crews sent out within 1-2 days.
The City will be clearing windrows where required from:
- Arterial and collector roads
- Bus routes
- Senior centres
- Cul-de-sacs when excessive snow volumes make it necessary
On roads designated with the Seasonal Parking ban, smaller equipment will be working with the graders to open up driveway entrances but there may be delays.
In the neighbourhoods, windrows will not be removed but plows will minimize the height of windrows at driveway entrances. As these windrows can restrict on-street parking, residents are encouraged to park their vehicles on their driveways, parking pads or garages.
After a snowfall, designated bike lanes on roads will be cleared at the same time as the adjacent road. Shared-use trails will be cleared within 48 hours after a snowfall ends.
The City has to meet the same commitments as residents in terms of clearing city-owned sidewalks and multi-use trails.
Frequently, residents or their contractors deposit snow and ice from their property onto the road or sidewalk, not realizing that this action violates municipal bylaws. This practice contributes to unsafe driving and walking conditions, increases the cost of providing winter road maintenance and can lead to blocked storm drains. If you do not have room for snow on your property, you can haul it to one of four approved snow storage facilities in Edmonton free of charge.
Contact your community league directly and request the sandbox service. The community league can then contact the City to get a sandbox. It’s the league’s responsibility to keep the sandbox full.
Alternatively, individuals can pick up free sand from each of the City’s roadway maintenance yards.
We all have a role to play to help keep our winter roads safe and serviceable.
- Clear your sidewalk within 48 hours after the end of a snowfall
- Work with your neighbours to keep sidewalks clear
- Move your cars off the street during parking bans and residential blading
- Keep your waste collection areas free of snow and ice