Winter weather reminders for smooth snow days
As we witness the return of the snowy weather this week, the City of Lethbridge is reminding residents about the changes to how it manages snow and ice on the roads.
This winter, an additional 80 kms of residential roads have been added to the snow route network. Snow routes may be activated when there is heavy snowfall or accumulation with temporary parking restrictions along snow routes.
To help residents understand and navigate these changes, we’ve created a list of questions and answers to provide additional context.
Why are snow routes being expanded and enforced now? Is there a reason for the change?
Through survey feedback in 2022, residents told us that they wanted more plowing in residential areas. Historically, only the major roads in the city were regularly plowed. Most residential streets were designated as “Priority 3 snow removal” roads. Snow removal is done when snow there’s enough snow on the road to impede traffic. Snow is pushed into the middle of the road, loaded into trucks, and hauled away. It’s an expensive and time-consuming way to clear snow; consequently, residential roads were seldom plowed. See all project details here.
An alternative and more efficient way to clear snow, is to plow snow to the right side of the road. Creating a snow route network that can be activated in heavy snow accumulation is an efficient way to deploy snow-clearing resources. In the spring of 2022, City Council reviewed all options and provided administration with direction to perform more plowing along snow routes. When snow routes are activated, vehicles must be moved off the road to allow plows to work swiftly and safely. With your community cooperation, can receive snow clearing throughout the winter.
What roadways were considered to be included in the snow route network?
Busier residential streets that maintain important access to neighborhoods are included in the snow route network. This will help keep you on the move and allow better access for service and emergency vehicles.
Some roadways were intentionally left out of the snow route network. School zones, downtown streets and areas around the hospital will continue to receive snow removal based on feedback and their unique usage. In other areas, some roads were excluded to prevent plowed snow from piling on sidewalks that are located right up against the right side of the road.
Why do I have to move my vehicle when snow routes are activated?
Snow route streets will be plowed when there’s enough snow accumulation or heavy snowfall in the forecast. Plows will clear those streets by pushing snow to the right of the road when snow routes are activated.
You will be required to remove all vehicles from the road with a 24-hour notice. When there are no cars to maneuver around, the plows can complete their task swiftly and safely.
Vehicles left on the street may be subject to parking tickets if they impede operation. You also run the risk of having your vehicle plowed-in, which will be inconvenient to shovel out. Be a great neighbour and visitor by having a parking plan and finding another place to park your vehicle during snow route activations.
Does the City have to issue snow route parking tickets? How will I know when snow routes are activated?
Enforcing snow route parking restrictions helps maintain a vehicle-free roadway for the plow trucks to complete their work. The best way to avoid parking tickets is to download the Lethbridge Loop app to receive snow route notifications. The City will also provide snow route updates on Lethbridge.ca , social media, or you can call or chat with 311.
Plowing to the right sounds inconvenient. Aren’t you going to create a lot of extra shoveling for residents who live on snow routes?
When snow routes are active, snow will be plowed to the right of the road. Snow is largely pushed up onto boulevards (sidewalks are avoided); however, this method will create a small windrow at the end of driveways. We understand this can be an inconvenience, but it will only happen during heavy snowfall events.
In winter 2022/23, snow routes were activated in pilot areas and snow was plowed to the right six times throughout the season. Windrow impacts were monitored and recorded. In reviewing the data, we found a large majority of windrows were small and very few sidewalks were affected. Feedback from residents in those areas showed half of the people living along the new routes thought the new plow services were adequate. This winter, the City will continue to monitor the impacts, investigate issues, as well as ask for feedback from residents.
It’s snowing and I haven’t seen any plows yet. Which roads are plowed first and how will I know when they’ve been done?
Find out where snow plows are and where they’ve been recently, by looking at this live map. This map tool can help you see when snow routes are active and parking restrictions apply. Understanding snow plowing routes allows you to plan your travel during heavy snowfall too. It helps in making informed decisions, such as choosing alternate paths if your usual route is impassable due to snow.
Snow plow drivers work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during winter snowfall. They’re sanding and clearing snow so that roads are safer for you and everyone who uses them. Lethbridge experiences some unique snow and ice challenges like frequent freeze/thaw cycles. These cycles can result in ice, deep-freeze temperatures that render salt applications ineffective, black ice formation and large wind drifts. You can help by calling or chatting with 311 to report these and other issues. Extending some extra patience while crews work to deal with extreme conditions always helps too.
Plows are slow. How can I get around them?
Please don’t crowd the plows. Leave at least five vehicle lengths between you and the plow when following behind them. You should also never pass snow plows unless there is a free left lane to do so. Passing is especially dangerous if a fleet of plows is working together on multiple lanes. You may have to slow down, but it’s safer for you and is very much appreciated by plow drivers when you give them plenty of space to work in. Find out about new provincial laws on passing snow plows.
Help be part of the snow-lution this winter by:
- Slow your roll, on all streets, all winter; give yourself and other extra time to get to your destination.
- Stay in the know by downloading the Lethbridge Loop app; get smart phone notifications to let you know when snow routes are activated/deactivated;
- Move your vehicle when temporary parking restrictions apply; vehicles left on the street during active snow routes may be subject to parking tickets.
- Let your kindness glow, help a neighbour with the snow; Offer to help shovel your neighbours sidewalks and driveways to create a more accessible neighbourhood.
- Don’t crowd the plows; stay at least 5 car lengths behind snow plows.