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City of Ottawa Winter Operations - Overview

Updated: Nov 21

As a reminder to everyone, the City of Ottawa has standards that they follow during winter storm:

Snow Removal Priorities at Accumulation:

1. Transitway, Major Roads and Arterials including roads with bus routes

2. Sidewalks

3. Secondary Roads and Minor Collectors – 5 cm accumulation

4. Priority Sidewalks

Priorities after the last snowflake falls:

1. Major Roads, Arterials and Collectors – within 2-4 hours (high-use, emergency and transit routes first)

2. Minor Collectors – within 6 hours – 5cm+ accumulation

3. Residential Sidewalks - within 12-16 hours - 5cm+ accumulation

4. Residential Roads and Lanes – within 10 to 16 hours - 7cm+ accumulation

Check out this presentation on all aspects of the City of Ottawa's winter operations!

2023 Snow Removal Presentation
Download PDF • 3.60MB

General Notices

Catch Basin Clearing

With the melting snow, it is critical that the water can properly drain. Please ensure catch basins close to your property are clear. Can't do it yourself? You may report a blocked catch basin by creating an online service request by visiting or by calling 3-1-1.

Resident Support

  • There is no need to create a service request for routine snow clearing. We are on the job and our efforts are currently needed out in the community; service requests should only be created for emergencies.

  • Please place garbage, recycling, and organic collection bins in your driveway and not on the road or sidewalks. Residents can sign up to receive reminders and service alerts for their waste collection day by email, phone or Twitter at


How are Potholes Formed?

Potholes are formed when water (from rain or melted snow and ice) seeps into small cracks or holes in the road. As temperatures drop, the water under the road freezes and expands pushing up on the road above, creating larger cracks – when the temperature rises above zero, the water evaporates and leaves an open space under the road. The weight of cars and trucks travelling over these weak spots breaks the asphalt, resulting in potholes.

How arer Potholes repaired?

Potholes are filled by cleaning the hole of debris and water, then packing it with asphalt and rolling or pounding it down. At this time of year, some potholes in high traffic areas may need to be refilled more than once. This happens because water works its way back into the hole preventing the asphalt from forming an adhesive bond with the pavement.

Filling Potholes in Winter

In winter, conditions are not ideal for pothole repairs. The unstable conditions, including ice and water in the holes, as well as the cold temperatures and frequent freeze / thaw cycles, prevents the patch from adhering as well to the roadway making the repair temporary. Products that staff use to repair potholes during the winter months are Cold Patch and Warm Mix asphalt.

Cold Patch asphalt is a blended asphalt material which can be stored for extended periods of time. It can be used in all temperatures, does not require special equipment to compact and can be applied directly to the roadway without heating.

Warm Mix asphalt can be used year-round and produced at a lower temperature using different adhesives in the mix. Once the material is heated, the adhesives become thinner allowing improved workability and flow. The material can be manually compacted with a tamper, or shaped and compacted with power plate tampers or rollers.

What’s Next?

Based on the forecast, we are anticipating several freeze-thaw cycles over the next few weeks. The city has already experienced 35 freeze/thaw cycles this winter season. Residents can expect to see our pothole crews across the City. Ottawa winters are hard on our infrastructure, and this year in particular, we are anticipating an increased number of potholes. We appreciate your patience as we transition between different winter maintenance activities and prioritize and deploy resources to complete our operations.

For residents wishing to report a pothole, a service request can be created online.

Snow Windrows

A snow windrow is a pile of snow that accumulates at the end of driveways and on the sides of streets during plowing. It is the responsibility of the home owner to remove their own driveway windrows. Learn more about property snow removal here.

Stay in the know about the snow!

Click here to receive email updates about upcoming winter parking bans!

During winter parking bans, the City of Ottawa has opened up several park and ride locations, including Nepean Woods. More details can be found here.

Snow Removal

The City of Ottawa's Roads and Parking Services Team has started snow removal operations across the city. This involves either casting (to City property) or hauling snow to reduce the size of snowbanks. Temporary no parking signs mean that a team will be by in the near future.

Here are a few important factors that are behind the consideration, timing and planning of snowbank removal operations:

  • Snowbank removal operations are planned in accordance with the Council-approved Winter Maintenance Quality Standards and are prioritized based on road classification and the amount of snow that is encroaching on the roadway.

  • Temporary no parking signs will be erected in snowbanks where operations are set to begin. Once signs are posted, vehicles must be removed from the roadway or risk being ticketed and towed to a nearby street. No one is exempt from these operations, including residential parking permit holders.

  • When snowbank removal is underway and a winter weather event is occurring or approaching, crews are redeployed to respond to the changing conditions. Once the transportation network is restored, snowbank removal operations will resume.


For the latest updates on the City's winter operations, visit: Snow plowing and clearing | City of Ottawa or follow our Twitter and Facebook pages.

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