City Ready For Snow

John Parsons, London's Manager of Transportation and Roadside Operations, inside the salt dome at the Exeter Road Operations Centre, December 8, 2016. The dome can hold up to 8,000 tones of salt. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News.)

With snow already flying and a snow squall warning in effect, London’s plows, salters, and sanders are gassed up and ready to hit the streets.

Crews spent Thursday morning spraying main roads and bridges with an anti-icer made of salt brine and beet juice in preparation of the region’s first major snow fall of the season.

“We can anti-ice 800 km of road within about three hours,” said John Parsons,┬ádivision manager of transportation and roadside operations. “All we are trying to do there is break the bond between ice and snow on the road.”

Environment Canada issued a snow squall warning for London on Thursday afternoon with its forecast calling for 15-25 cm of snow possible Friday.

The city’s 28 sanders and salters have already begun patrolling primary and secondary roads. Once snow begins to pile up, the city has 66 plows it can deploy to clear streets. Plowing the white stuff off of main routes can take as long as six hours once the snow has stopped.

Parsons said residential streets won’t see the plow until 10 cm or more has fallen and even then it can take up to 24 hours to clear all of those streets.

“When we start to get a lot of snow on the road, don’t park on the street,” said Parsons. “We need room, a lot of room. These trucks are large, they have front plows, they have wings, they can span almost 20 ft wide. If there are parked cars on the road it is very difficult for us to get around. A lot of the newer subdivisions have narrower roads, it takes time to maneuver around, it slows us down.”

While the city has 41 sidewalk plows, Parsons credits residents with snow blowers who lend a hand.

“We see people not only doing their driveway, helping out their neighbours but going up the sidewalk,” said Parsons. “We are seeing a lot more of that, which is really helpful. You can imagine when a blanket of snow is covering the sidewalk, it is very difficult for the sidewalk plow to get right down the middle of that sidewalk.”

London has $2.3-million left of its $13.2-million 2016 snow removal budget. Any money leftover come January 1, when the new $13.4-million budget kicks in, will be put in a winter reserve fund for snow emergencies.

The City of London also announced on Thursday afternoon that, because of the weather forecast, its overnight parking pass restriction would be in effect.

“Due to the weather forecast, which suggests a heavy snowfall in London over the next few days, the Overnight Parking Pass registry is closed for pass registrations. Passes that were issued in advance for tonight and onward are no longer valid. The registry will be closed until further notice, and will not reopen during the weekend,” a statement from the city says. “Londoners that currently have an overnight parking pass registered for their vehicle are asked not to park on-street overnight until further notice to support any necessary snow clearing operations. Vehicles parked on-street overnight during this time are subject to fines.”