Toronto neighbourhood leads demand for review of snow clearing services

Protocol questioned after hundreds of complaints pour in from across the city


Published:

John Plumadore organized opposition to the city’s uneven snow-clearing policy

Mayor John Tory has called for a review of the city’s winter operations following a harrowing few weeks of weather that saw the mayor’s office flooded with complaints regarding snow removal service.

In a Feb. 5 letter to Barbara Gray, general manager of transportation services in Toronto, Tory noted that his office had received more than 150 calls and emails from residents complaining about snow removal. He requested that a review include a study on whether snow-clearing service levels should increase, best practices and technology used in other Canadian cities when dealing with snow and ice, and the cost of clearing sidewalks in Toronto and East York, including a detailed look at the benefits of harmonizing the city’s sidewalk clearing.

Currently, the City of Toronto provides mechanical sidewalk snow clearing in most parts of the city. The City of Toronto’s website says the city is unable to provide the service in the downtown core and in some midtown neighbourhoods.

“Our communities cannot afford another year of this safety hazard.”

John Plumadore is the president of the Deer Park Residents Group (DPRG) and has campaigned against the city’s unequal snow removal policy in the past. Following Tory’s comments, Plumadore sent a letter to the mayor on behalf of DPRG, pointing out that although nearby neighbourhoods, such as Forest Hill, benefit from sidewalk plowing, Deer Park was an “unliveable environment,” with ice and snow on the sidewalks that put residents in jeopardy.

Toronto ombudsman, Susan Opler, is now monitoring issues related to snow removal, citing broad-based public concern. Opler said she believes there are two issues: the quality of service the city is providing, and the different approaches to sidewalk clearing in different parts of the city.

“Sidewalks not cleared of snow and ice affect many people,” said Opler in a Feb. 19 statement, “including those with mobility challenges and young families with strollers.”

Plumadore wrote in his letter that although he appreciates the need to review the city’s current system and establish how best to allocate resources, he believes decisions should be made during the current budget deliberations. 

“Our communities cannot afford another year of this safety hazard as staff study whether something should be done,” said Plumadore.

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