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Snow and Ice FAQs

We understand that you may have many questions about snow and ice control in Lethbridge. Here are some of the more common questions we hear along with some information about our priority routes.

Accordion Answer
When does the City sand and salt the roads?

City crews sand and salt roads prior to snowfall and after snow has frozen to the road surface. This is done based on the Priority Routes Map.

There are two approaches to ice control:

  1. Anti-icing
  2. De-icing

What is the difference between snow plowing routes and snow removal routes?

​On snow plowing routes, snow is plowed to the side of the road and occurs primarily on arterial roads like Whoop Up Drive.

On snow removal routes in residential areas, snow is plowed to the middle of the road, in windrows, so that we do not block residential driveways with plowed snow. Windrowed snow is then removed by truck.  

Motorists are reminded to drive cautiously around windrows as the windrows decrease lane space.

Priority 1 Routes

The City plows, sands and salts roads, or does snow removal based on a priority system. Priority 1 routes are tended to first. 

Route Maps

Priority 1 routes are determined based on the roads incline, grade and traffic volume. Priority 1 routes will be plowed and sanded/salted within 24 hours of a snowfall ending. All efforts will stay on Priority 1 routes until it has stopped snowing and they are cleared. 

The Priority 1 plowing and sanding routes in Lethbridge are:

  • Whoop-Up Drive
  • University Drive
  • Metis Trail
  • Bridge Drive
  • Mayor Magrath Drive
  • Scenic Drive
  • 26th Avenue North
  • 28th Street North
  • Brewery Hill
  • 5th Avenue North
    (from Highway 3 to Stafford Drive)
  • 43 Street North
  • Walsh Drive 
  • Garry Drive
  • Canyon Blvd

Priority 2 Routes

Route Maps

Priority 2 include remaining arterials and designated collectors.

Service Level: These will be cleared if snowfall accumulations begin to impede traffic, after Priority 1 routes have been completed.

With each new event, snow clearing begins with Priority 1 areas. If frequent events occur, there may be delays in the clearing of lesser priorities.

Priority 3 Routes

Route Maps

Priority 3 include remaining collectors, controlled intersections (stops and yields) and bus routes.

Service Level: These will be cleared if snowfall accumulations begin to impede traffic, after Priority 2 routes have been completed.

With each new event, snow clearing begins with Priority 1 areas. If frequent events occur, there may be delays in the clearing of lesser priorities.        

Priority 4 Routes

Route Maps

Priority 4
 - All other City controlled roadways and laneways

Service Level - Typically the City does not plow residential roads unless it is impassible for emergency vehicles and the general public with properly equipped vehicles.

With each new event, snow clearing begins with Priority 1 areas. If frequent events occur, there may be delays in the clearing of lesser priorities.

I live on a Snow Route. When do I have to move my vehicle from the street?

​You do not need to move your vehicle during a regular winter snow storm if you live on a Snow Route.

In the event of abnormal or extreme winter weather in which roads need to be plowed, the City may declare that Snow Routes have been activated resulting in a Temporary Parking Ban being put in place for all, or specific Snow Routes. 

Once declared, residents will be notified by Public Service Announcements through:

The Temporary Parking bans will be in effect for 72 hours, unless the declaration is terminated before 72 hours, or is extended for a further 72 hour period.

> Learn More

 Other Snow and Ice Questions

Accordion Answer
When will the speed limit on Whoop-Up Drive be reduced?

In winter road conditions, the speed limit on Whoop-Up Drive may be lowered to 60 km/h between Scenic Drive and University Drive in order to reduce collisions and enhance traffic safety. 

Variable speed limit signs are installed on Whoop-Up Drive that allow us to lower the speed limit due to winter road conditions or scheduled road maintenance.

​Wondering how we decide when to raise the speed limit on Whoop-Up Drive back to 90 km/h after a snow event?

  • Once the limit has been lowered, we want to avoid the confusion that could result from moving the limit back and forth within several hours due to changing road conditions.
  • When conditions start to improve, some motorists want us to raise the limit back to 90 km/h immediately. But even when conditions look good during the day, the risk of flash freezing on the bridge deck may still exist, especially early in the morning or late in the afternoon when traffic is heaviest.
  • Before we raise the speed limit, we want to be certain that road conditions and the bridge deck temperature have sufficiently stabilized that a speed limit reduction likely won’t become necessary unless the weather changes.
  • When it comes to the safety of motorists, if we err, it will be on the side of caution. Your safety is our primary concern.
  • We monitor the forecast and conditions and make the safest decision we can. While we hear from those who want the limit raised sooner, we also hear from many others want it to stay reduced to 60 km/h.
  • To provide some perspective, the speed limit reduction adds just over a minute to the Whoop-Up Drive commute.

When will my residential street be plowed?

The City typically does not plow residential roads unless they are impassible for emergency vehicles and the general public with properly equipped vehicles.

What level of priority are roads that schools are on?

Most schools are on a Priority 2 or 3 Snow Removal route (because they are typically on roads with bus routes) but the priority level will depend on where the school is located.

Note: School districts are responsible to clear city sidewalks fronting school buildings and within school sites

What level of priority are roads that the hospital is on?

The roads leading into the hospital are a priority and we're always monitoring them. These roads are on the priority removal route, not the priority plowing list, as the snow in that area can't simply be pushed to the side of the road. Our crews will always make sure that vehicles have unimpeded access to the hospital.

When does the City work on snow and ice control?

Dedicated staff are on a winter storm watch shifts providing 24 hour coverage – 7 days per week. Shifts are scheduled for maximum maintenance coverage throughout the winter months.

When does the City clear windrows from the middle of streets?

Snow Removal is based on a priority system and can be found on our interactive map (Flash required) or downloadable map

Typically the downtown core is Priority 1 for snow removal.

Who is responsible for snow removal on sidewalks?

The City of Lethbridge clears over 215 kms of sidewalks and pathways within the city. These sidewalks and pathways are cleared on a priority system.

Home owners are asked to clear any snow, ice or other debris which has been deposited on the sidewalk next to their property within 24 hours.

TIP: Please help us keep winter roads in your neighbourhood safer by piling snow from your driveway or sidewalk onto your property or boulevard, not on the road. 

Need sand/salt for an icy sidewalk? The City provides sand free of charge for residents at two locations.

Does the City use snow fences to reduce drifting and blowing snow?

Yes, the City of Lethbridge does install snow fences to reduce drifting and blowing snow. In 2014 the City installed 17 kms of snow fences. Click here for more information about the City's snow fence program.

Who is responsible for snow removal in parking lots?

All parking lots are the responsibility of the property owner. This includes parking lots owned by the school boards, hospital and other businesses. City owned parking lots are done under contract.

What resources does the City have available for snow and ice control?
Road Maintenance (controlled by the Transportation Operations Department):
  • 6 Tandems with Sanders and Front Snow Plows
  • 3 Tandems with Sanders, Front Snow Plows and Side Wing Plows
  • 2 Tandems with Sanders, Anti-icing Capabilities and Front Snow Plows
  • 1 Tandem with Sander, Anti-icing Tank, Under-Body and Front Snow Plow
  • 1 Three-ton Single Axle Truck with Sander,
  • 2 Graders
  • 2 Front End Loaders
  • 1 Front End Loader with Plow
  • 1 Two-ton Single Axle Truck with Front End Plow and Sander
  • 2 Snow Blowers

Sidewalk & Trail Maintenance (Controlled by Parks Operations):

  • 7 - 4 wheel drive mowers with broom and blade attachments
  • 1 tractor with snow blade
  • 6 UTV Trucksters with plow blades and sanders
  • 3 skid steer loaders with snow bucket, brooms, blowers and blades
  • 10 back pack snow blowers
  • 2 snow blowers
  • Various 3 ton, 1 ton, crew cab, and ½ ton trucks c/w trailers as required

*Note: Trucks to haul snow are contracted and used as/when necessary.  In addition various pieces of heavy equipment with operators are available on a contractual basis.  A tender is prepared yearly by the Public Operations Account Support Technician of available contractors with various equipment.

Where does unused snow removal budget go?

Any unused snow removal funds from the previous year’s operating budget flow into the Municipal Revenue Stabilization Reserve (MRSR).  In the case of a heavy snow year, if the City exhausts it’s yearly budget for snow removal, it will use the funds in this reserve.


For more information

Phone: 311 or 403-320-3111 (if outside of Lethbridge)
Online: Submit a service request