Snow on Roads
The Township is responsible for maintaining 18 km of rural gravel roads. Each year the Council of the Municipality of the United Townships of Head, Clara & Maria requests the cooperation of all persons in keeping vehicles from obstructing snow removal operations in the Municipality and in refraining from placing snow from private property onto Municipal roadways. Notification is placed in the local newspaper in October or November. Necessary action will be taken against persons contravening the Highway Traffic Act in this respect.
Winter conditions are regularly monitored in all areas of the United Townships of Head, Clara & Maria. As winter approaches, a supply of sand/salt mixture is contracted for, our plowing contract is initiated and roads personnel prepare for the first snowfall.
Snowplow operations begin with the first significant snowfall. This can be as early as November 15 or as late as December. Township bylaws prohibit parking or stopping on the road in a way that interferes with plowing operations. Plow operators need clear roadways to complete their routes safely and on time. Under the Highway Traffic Act, residents are not allowed to deposit snow on the roadway. When clearing snow, pile it on your property – do not shovel it onto the road or across the road into the ditch. This practice is dangerous because it may cover the salt/sand applied and may cause drivers to lose control. It may also cause windrows of snow that freeze across the road causing further hazards.
The sand applied to roads is mixed with a certain percentage of salt to prevent the sand from freezing. During freezing rain or other icy conditions this mixture may be increased to provide safer driving conditions. The Township does not apply unmixed salt to roads. Sanding is normally completed on hills, curves, intersections and railway crossings but may be applied to other areas if icy conditions occur.
Which streets are the first to be plowed?
Council has created policy that outlines the parameters for route determination. The routes are designed to clear roads in a systematic way that generally gives priority to efficiency and safety.
Why does it sometimes take a long time for my road to be plowed?
During normal snowfall events, the plow driver will strive to follow his route in the same way every time. This will provide some consistency in the timeframe that the plow completes each road. Some winter events are much more severe than others, leading to exceptionally large quantities of snowfall, drifting, or freezing rain. In these conditions, the plow may have to take longer to complete the first roads.
When available, two trucks will be on the roads decreasing the time for all roads to be cleared. Generally, when this occurs, one begins at the easternmost end of the municipality and the other goes to the west. This is not contracted but an extra service provided by our contractor. During periods of freezing rain, the plow may have to apply much more sand than normal, requiring the truck to travel off route more often for refilling.
How long does snow clearance usually take?
Based on the Class 5 and Class 6 roads that comprise our municipal roads, the Minimum Service Level is to complete clearing roads within 24 hours of the end of the event. Most routes however are completed within an 8-10 hour period of the plows being called out at the three (3) inch depth mark. This time may be extended during exceptionally heavy snowfall or freezing rain events. In accordance with Ministry of Labour regulations, drivers cannot work for more than 13 hours without an extended rest period. There are other restrictions limiting the number of consecutive days a driver can work. These regulations were put in place to protect our drivers and other motorists. Depending of the event, this may affect the service that we receive.
What happens during a normal snowfall event?
Early in the morning, when winter events are being forecast, the Road Superintendent monitors the weather conditions of Township roads. If a winter storm develops the Super will call in the contractor for a normal 6 a.m. start and will begin plowing and sanding our roads. With this schedule most roads are cleared in time for the morning commute.
What happens during non-routine snowfall events?
A heavy storm that develops during the night, before daytime roads hours begin at 7:00 am can cause significant accumulations before the roads crews can begin their routes. Heavy snowfall, drifting, poor visibility and freezing rain conditions can also impair road clearing operations and cause travel delays. The condition of Highway 17 also impacts the ability of our contractor to complete operations. Staff continually monitors long term weather reports and current weather conditions to ensure public road safety. The Township recognizes that these situations are frustrating to residents and will do everything possible to clear the roads as quickly and safely as possible. Please note that the Township cannot respond to special requests to clear a particular road at any time. The contractor must follow their assigned routes to ensure timely snow removal for the entire Township.
Why do plows push snow into driveways? / Why can’t the operator lift the blade in front of my house?
Snow must be pushed to the side of the road to clear the road for traffic. The Township understands that this unavoidable situation can be frustrating as the corresponding snow ends up in driveways. Sometimes it is necessary to make several passes with the snowplow during a storm. At other times it will be necessary to push back the banks to allow room for more snow and to provide room for drainage during the thaw. Homes that are located near corners or in cul-de-sacs may get more snow in the driveways than homes located on a straight section of road. This too is unavoidable. Seasonal residents who visit their cottages during the winter months should expect their driveway’s to be impassable unless the driveways have been regularly maintained. Snow that has accumulated over the winter will be hard-packed and icy. Lifting the blade of the snowplow in front of a home to reduce the amount of snow going into the driveway is not allowed. The snowplow is put into operation to clear the snow off the road and in order for this to happen the blade must stay in contact with the road surface at all times.
Why can’t the Township sand the sides of the road where I walk?
Roads are maintained for drivers, not walkers. Sanders are designed with the applicator in the centre of the truck to apply sand to the centre of the road. The Township understands the desire for fresh air and exercise but during the winter months it may not always be safe to walk on the side of the road. Icy conditions, poor visibility and snow clearing operations may create dangerous conditions for people and vehicles to share the roadway. At these times, residents are encouraged to stay off the roads and find an alternate source of exercise.
What do I do if a Township plow damages my property?
First, determine if the damage was caused by the plow or the snow load. The Township has no control over snow load and does not reimburse homeowners for that type of damage. This may include trees, shrubs or fences being damaged by the sheer weight and volume of the snow. Sometimes a plow will damage property by actually hitting an object or by digging into the ground causing damage to vegetation and lawn.
If your property is damaged by the plow, please call the municipal office at: 613-586-2526. The Township will repair damage to lawns as soon as spring thaw allows. Garbage and recycle bins are also vulnerable to plow damage. To avoid damage, keep your garbage and recycle items in your driveway – not on the roadway. Do not place items on top of the snow bank. The Township does not reimburse residents for damage to garbage or recycle bins.
The Township is not responsible for damages that occur on Township property. The Township owned area between the road surface and the property line must be kept clear of private items such as fences, posts, ornaments, or certain plantings. The Township does not reimburse property owners for damages to these items.