The Infrastructure Services Department maintains 240 lane kilometers of regional roads and 985 lane kilometers of City streets. Our winter maintenance operations include:

  • Monitoring of weather
  • Patrolling road
  • Anti-icing
  • Salting or sanding
  • Plowing and snow removal

Weather is monitored four times daily. When there's a forecast for inclement weather we conduct road patrols. Where there's a forecast for favourable conditions, we apply liquid to selected roads (anti-icing) as a proactive measure.

Cambridge Plow map

Use the map below to help you find out when roads have been salted and plowed in the City of Cambridge. Data is populated when plowing operations begin for a snow event or significant snowfall and is tracked for 36 hours after the snowfall ends.

Open the colour coded legend on the left side of the map to see the time range indicating when a salter or plow was last on the street.

When 10 cm of snow or more has fallen during an event, all streets will be serviced. For events with less than 10 cm, only streets noted as primary or secondary are serviced

View the map in fullscreen.

Stay up-to-date on snow event declarations. Subscribe to receive notifications to your email.

Learn more about snow clearing in Cambridge in our snow brochure.

Roads

After a significant snow fall (10 cm or 4 in), our plow operations clear all streets once the snow has stopped falling. We have divided the City into 26 plow routes, each with a dedicated plow truck. 

We declare a Snow Event to restrict on-street parking during our snowplowing operations.

When residential streets become icy or when temperatures fall well below -20 degrees Celsius, we apply sand instead of salt.

Once the snow storm is over, we remove snow from strategic areas in preparation for future storms. We then remove snow from the downtown core areas, followed by widening narrow roads as required and as resources become available.

Schedule
City of Cambridge winter maintenance schedule
Amount of SnowMaintenance OperationTime Needed to Complete Operation
(once snowfall ends)
As snow begins Salt trucks on all primary and secondary roads Not applicable
5 cm Snow plows on most primary and secondary roads 6 hours
10 cm Snow plows on most residential roads 24 hours

 

Sidewalks and walkways

Keeping sidewalks clear and safe for all residents is a joint effort between the City and the community. Property owners or occupants are required to clear snow and ice from the sidewalks at the front and side of their property within 36 hours of a snowfall. 

View a map showing the sidewalks maintained by the City and those that are the responsibility of the property owner.

View the map in fullscreen.

The City performs winter maintenance operations on some sidewalks and walkways to:

  • Reduce the hazards of icy, snow-covered sidewalk conditions to the community
  • Maintain safe, passable routes for pedestrians
  • Maintain paved routes to winter recreation areas
  • Comply with all applicable legislation
  • Reduce economic losses to the community and industry caused by delays during icy, snow-covered sidewalk conditions
  • Reduce the impact on the environment and the drinking water supply through proper storage, use and disposal of road salt and associated de-icing and anti-icing chemicals

Except for sidewalks located in one of the three BIA districts (downtown core), the City of Cambridge is responsible for clearing sidewalks when they meet any of the following criteria:

  • Curb-faced sidewalks (sidewalks next to the curb face or located not more than 0.25 m from the curb face)
  • Back-lot sidewalks (sidewalks located next to the rear lot line of a property)
  • Sidewalks in front of properties owned and managed by the City of Cambridge
  • All sidewalks along regional roads
  • Street to street walkways (easements that lead to and connect from one street or neighborhood to another)
  • Street to park walkways (easements that lead to and connect from the street to a park with paved pathways connected within it)

To report an issue with sidewalk clearing, call (519) 740-4681 during regular business hours 8:30am to 4:30pm or report it online

For any after hour emergencies (weekends/holidays) call (519) 621-0740 to page the On-Call Manager or Supervisor.

Salting and sanding

We divide the City into nine salting areas. Each salting area is broken down into primary routes and secondary routes with a dedicated salter and plow combination truck.

If the snow fall is heavy, we reduce our salting operations and begin snowplowing operations, clearing the primary routes before moving on to the secondary routes. View our winter maintenance schedule for more information.

Our winter maintenance crew uses salting and sanding as required, at rates that are effective, economical and follow industry standards.

Our winter maintenance vehicles use contemporary technology to minimize the rate of salt application to protect our ground water supplies.  We do not salt every street. Our salt routes include:

  • Arterial roads
  • Collector roads
  • Selected other streets with steep inclines or sharp curves
Rules and regulations

The City of Cambridge conducts winter maintenance operations according to the following rules and regulations:

  • A 24-hour emergency answering service shall be maintained year round
  • Calls shall be forwarded to competent personnel experienced in winter operations, and who are also able to arrange for and deploy, the necessary maintenance forces required
  • All calls shall be logged, indicating the time of the call, who the call is from and the action taken
  • All calls received from Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) shall be investigated and appropriate action shall be taken
  • All sidewalk snow machines shall be equipped with GPS tracking units
  • Sidewalk plowing and sanding/salting routes shall be established, reviewed and/or revised annually for the most current and efficient coverage
  • Snow banks may be removed or pushed back in the core areas as resources become available and time permits (other restricted areas of passage may also receive the same service, if deemed necessary)
  • Winter maintenance operations shall provide safe movement of pedestrian traffic when the sidewalk width is constricted by snow windrows
  • Winter maintenance operations shall minimize the hazards of high snow banks in locations, such as intersection crossings
  • Winter maintenance operations shall provide room for continued equipment access
  • Winter maintenance operations shall facilitate drainage wherever possible
  • Winter maintenance operations shall remove snow that has been plowed onto sidewalks where no boulevard area exists between the roadway and sidewalk to allow for further storage of snow
  • Sand boxes shall be placed prior to the winter season on problematic hills for use by pedestrians
  • Sand boxes shall be inspected and refilled as needed
Winter parking

To reduce the impact of on-street parking on winter maintenance activities the City has two parking restrictions specific to winter parking:

  1. Late Night parking restrictions - Late night parking is not permitted on any street between 2:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. in the City of Cambridge from January 1 to March 15.
  2. Snow Event parking restrictions - On-street parking is not permitted at any time during a snow event. Learn more about parking during snow events.
How to help

You can help the City perform winter maintenance quickly and efficiently by:

  • Ensuring all vehicles are off the street following a storm
  • Not placing snow from driveways or sidewalks back onto the street
  • Keeping sidewalks clear
  • Being patient
  • Using caution when driving or walking in winter conditions
Emergencies

In case of medical or other serious emergency, the City's snow clearing crews respond to calls for help through the ambulance service and can be accessed by interconnected radio communications with police and fire services.

Snow clearing problems

You can report any snow clearing issues to the City of Cambridge.

The By-law Enforcement Office addresses private sidewalk complaints, according to the Side.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Below are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about our winter maintenance operations.

 Why doesn't the City plow all sidewalks?
There are over 650 km of sidewalks throughout the city of Cambridge. Unfortunately, the City does not the budget or staff resources to provide maintenance for all sidewalks.
 What happens if I don't clear the sidewalks bordering my property?
The City's Snow Clearing By-law requires all property owners to clear the snow from the sidewalks bordering their property within 36 hours after a snowfall. If you don't clear the snow from sidewalks surrounding your property within this timeframe, you will receive a summons or the City will clear the sidewalk and send you a bill for the service.
 Why do snowplows cause a lot of snow to accumulate on the driveway of my corner lot?
In order to completely clear an intersection snowplows must make two passes. First, they swing wide into the intersection to reach the centre area then to return to push snow back to the curb line. They also reduce their speed to place snow at the curb line and not spread it over a wider area in the boulevard.
 Why do plows fill my driveway with snow?
There are approximately 550 km of roads in Cambridge. When a snowstorm hits the city, our crew's primary objective is to keep the transportation network open for commerce and emergency services. With about 30,000 driveways in the City, a delay of even one minute to avoid placing snow into the driveway entrances would require an additional 500 hours or 20 days to complete the snow plowing operation throughout the city.
 What can I do when the snowplows causes snow to accumulate on my shoveled sidewalk?
Some City sidewalks touch the roadway, leaving no place to store the snow from the plowing operation. There are about 55 km of sidewalks that touch roadways in the City. City crews clear these sidewalks as soon as possible after clearing City streets. If there's a section of sidewalk touches the roadway and is not cleared of snow, please report the location to our CSD Operations Division by calling (519) 740-4681 or by using our online reporting form.
 Why does my small local street always seem to be the last street to get plowed?
The plowing operation is based upon a hierarchy system. Snowplows are first deployed to clear the main roads (such as arterial roads), followed by secondary roads (such as collector roads and bus routes) and lastly, by local roads (such as small crescents and cul-de-sacs). Since hospitals and emergency services such as police, ambulance and fire services, are all located on arterial roads, the hierarchy ensures that these essential services can still operate. 
 Can the City help senior citizens or residents with health issues keep their sidewalk clear?
Community Support Connections is an agency that has partnered with the City of Cambridge to provide assistance to seniors or other individuals who are unable to clear snow from their sidewalks. Contact the agency by calling (519) 772-8787 or visit their website for more information about snow removal. Fees and eligibility requirements may apply.
 What can you do to get my neighbours to shovel their sidewalks?
Property owners or occupants must clear the snow and ice from sidewalks bordering the property. You can report issues of sidewalks not being cleared of snow and ice by calling (519) 621-0740 ext. 7907. Our staff will inspect the site and issue a notice to the resident. If the snow or ice is not removed upon re-inspection, City staff will clear the sidewalk and charge the resident for the services.
Why does the City place yellow boxes filled with sand along some streets?
The City places yellow boxes filled with sand in strategic locations throughout the City. We encourage residents to place the sand on sidewalks or roads when conditions become slippery. Typically, areas with steep hills or sloping conditions are ideal locations for these sand boxes. If you find that the sand is running low in any of these boxes, please call our Public Works Division at (519) 621-0740 and the sand boxes will be refilled.
Why do the plows go so fast and throw snow on my sidewalk?

Plows must maintain a minimum speed in order to push the snow off the road. Plow operators do not plow snow any further than necessary. However, some sidewalks are very close to the curb and it is difficult to avoid getting snow on the sidewalks.

To minimize the conflict between road snow plowing and sidewalk snow removal, City crews will the clear snow from those sidewalks that touch roadways and curbs.

Why isn't sand used more often to reduce the amount of salt used?

Each property is different and temperature ranges impact the effectiveness of salt and sand used for winter maintenance. On higher volume roads, traffic disperses the sand in the wheel path, where it is needed the most. This makes application volumes four times greater than salt because our crews have to reapply the sand more frequently. Using more sand for winter maintenance also includes the following additional tasks:

  • Clean up requirements in spring
  • Filling catch basins
  • Ditch lines require cleaning as the sand accumulates

Salt applied at the right time in the right amount at the right place, is still the most effective way to fight snow and ice accumulation.

Why doesn't the City apply salt on my street?

Due to environmental concerns and to protect the City's drinking water supply, the City of Cambridge minimizes the use of salt for winter maintenance. The application of salt is limited to arterial roads, intersections and hills. In areas designated as Drinking Water Protection Areas, the application of salt is restricted.

The City's winter maintenance fleet has computerized equipment that monitors road conditions and automatically determines the rate of salt application, avoiding excessive deposits of salt. This technology has resulted in a 30% reduction in the spreading rates of salt.

Why doesn't the City use more plowing and less sand and salt for environmental reasons?

There must be a minimum of 2 inches of snow on the road surface to begin plowing operations. Plowing and salting do not provide the same results and are needed for differing weather conditions. Sanding and salting is required if ice is present to prevent a bond forming between snow and asphalt or break the bond if ice has already formed.

The City usually doesn't use salt on local or minor streets and limits application to the arterial and collector street network. These practices help protect our drinking water sources.

 

 Cul de sac snow clearing

The City has partnered with a third-party company to clear snow on identified streets on our behalf.

The City clears snow based on a priority schedule of primary roads and secondary roads within six hours of a snowfall and residential streets within 24 hours of a snowfall. To help achieve this goal, the clearing of cul de sacs has been contracted. 

Residents may notice that the some plows will not have a City logo, and the clearing of the cul de sac may not necessarily occur simultaneously with adjacent streets.