Snow plow getting salt

The Task of Clearing Snow

Clearing snow in a city the size of Mississauga, you might imagine, is a major undertaking. With every snowfall, the City salts, sands and clears the following:

  • 5,700 lane kilometres of road
  • 1,700 kilometres of sidewalk
  • 3,300 Mi-Way transit stops
  • Numerous trails, parking lots and more.

To accomplish this task, the City deploys more than 500 snow clearing vehicles. Every snowfall is different, but our team is always ready to adapt and respond.

Girls on snowy sidewalk
Clear your sidewalk for yourself and others

The time it takes to clear snow

The time it takes to clear a particular street depends on the amount of snowfall and whether it is a primary or secondary route. The following table shows the City’s service standards for the time it takes to salt and clear roads from the end of a snowfall.

Type of Road < 5 cm 5 – 15 cm 15 – 30 cm > 30 cm
Primary Routes & Sidewalks Salted – 12 hrs 12 hrs 24 hrs > 24 hrs
Secondary Routes & Neighbourhood Streets Salted – 24 hrs 24 hrs 36 hrs > 36 hrs

If your street has not been cleared, first check the standard service times above.  Our snow team will not record requests for missed streets until our service deadlines have passed.  

How the City clears snow

Here are our snow clearing standards and procedures:

  • Priority roads are cleared to bare pavement. Priority roads consist of major roads and collector routes and are addressed first to ensure that emergency services and the public can safely travel to hospitals, schools and access public transportation systems and work immediately after a winter event.
  • Secondary roads are cleared once priority routes have been completed and are cleared to be safe and passable; bare pavement may not be achievable.
  • The ends of circle end of cul-de-sacs (courts) and the circle corners of some street bends require special clearing. Snowplows conduct a first pass and a front-end loader comes back for a second pass. If you live in one of these locations and there is significant snow between the end of your driveway and an already cleared portion of the road, please know a second pass should be coming.

  • With heavy snowfalls, plows will normally make more than one pass.
  • Snowplows cannot push snow to the far side of the street even if there are no homes on that side because that would involve driving on the wrong side of the road which is not permitted by provincial statute. 

  • Plow operators typically clear snow to the curb or edge of the street. During heavy accumulations of snow, this might not be possible. Once snowbanks have frozen set, they become the new road edge.
  • Plows may pass neighbourhood streets while clearing primary and secondary routes. This happens because clearing one neighbourhood street might only take a few minutes, but there are hundreds of such streets to be done. Streets are cleared in the order of priority rather than geographic proximity.

Windrow clearing of driveways

A windrow is the pile of snow a plow leaves at the end of your driveway when it goes by. The City offers a windrow clearing program for those seniors and people with disabilities who are unable to shovel snow themselves. This is a fee for service program, but those in financial need can apply to have the fee waived. You can learn more about the program and register for the service at the following link:

The City does not provide windrow clearing as a city-wide service for all residents.  In the Spring of 2023, City Council considered adding the service.  Council voted to not expand snow clearing in this way for some of the following reasons:

  • 1
    Windrow clearing would cost an additional $11.6-million per year — increasing the snow clearing budget by ~$63%.  This does not include an upfront cost of $8-million.  Mississauga averages seven plowing events per season. So, this approximately $1.7-million per snow event. While there are residents who would like windrow clearing, there are many who do not want the City to increase taxes.
  • 2
    Windrow clearing must necessarily be done after street plowing. Windrow clearing would take up to six hours after plowing and longer with the heaviest snow falls. This timeframe does not work for many people.
  • 3
    The service would not have included those living in townhouses and residents at the end of cul-de-sacs because of the lack of space between driveways.
  • 4
    Apartment and commercial property owners would pay for this service, but not receive benefit from it.
  • 5
    In the thirteen major cities around Mississauga, only two offer city-wide windrow clearing. In those that do, satisfaction with snow clearing is still an issue with those cities receiving thousands of complaints about the windrow clearing service given the time it takes and the less-than-perfect results it can achieve.
  • 6
    Many streets have on-boulevard parking. This would not be possible with windrow clearing.
  • 7
    Affordably staffing current snowplow operations is already challenge — something that would be more challenging with expanding service.
  • 8
    Windrow clearing creates special challenges on waste collection days — delaying one or the other.

Clearing sidewalks

Priority sidewalks

The City of Mississauga has 2,400 kilometres of sidewalks. Of that, 1,700 kilometres are designated as priority sidewalks. Priority sidewalks are located on arterial, residential and industrial collector roads, transit routes; and, on roadways having school, nursing home and hospital frontage. These are included in the City’s current winter maintenance program. Priority sidewalks along with bus stops and pedestrian crossings have the same timelines for completion that priority roads receive.

Secondary sidewalks

The remaining 700 km are not cleared by the City and the City depends on residents to clear the snow and ice from these sidewalks. Unlike some other municipalities, the City of Mississauga does not have a bylaw in place, which requires you or your neighbours to clear your City sidewalk. Instead, we rely on your goodwill to help out the school children, seniors, dog walkers and others who use the sidewalk in front of your home or business. Furthermore, if you know someone who could use your help clearing their sidewalk (and you are able to be of assistance), we encourage you to lend a helping hand.

For issues about the quality or timing of City sidewalk clearing or to report damage caused by a sidewalk plow, please see ‘How we can help‘ below.

Vehicle parking

Avoid parking your vehicle on the street when it snows. Parked vehicles stop the City from salting and clearing roads for emergency vehicles, public transit and residents.

Temporary parking permits may be suspended at any time during snowfall so the City can safely clear the roads.  Staff will also not issue any new temporary parking permits during this time. To find out if your temporary parking permit has been suspended follow us on Twitter @MississaugaSnow or call 311.

Tracking progress

Want to see where our snowplows are and the status of your street? Check our snowplow tracker map. We track our snowplows, salt trucks and sidewalk plows.  You can see where our plows are located and when we last serviced your road.

How we can help

Mistakes can happen. Each snowplow operator clear dozens of streets, and it is easy for something to happen on one street or in front of one home. It is a difficult job with demanding hours — and sometimes little thanks. Overall, we have every confidence in our snow team, and they will work to correct any issue when appropriate. Please have some patience though, if you have read this summary thus far, you know that clearing our streets after a major snowfall is huge task that takes some time. Our snow team is working as quickly, but also as safely as they can.

If you have an issue with snow clearing on your street, contact our 311 team by phoning 311 or emailing On average, 311 can help you more hours of the day and more quickly than a Councillor’s team can. Also, when you contact 311, your request gets statistically tracked with all other calls so that recurring issues can be identified and addressed even more quickly.

You are always welcome to call the Councillor’s office, but the best time to do that is when something cannot be resolved by 311 and you think we should know. Please know, that despite the senior role a Councillor has at the City, Councillors will not jump the queue on your behalf. We are here to assist with the process — not bypass it.

Damage from plows

If your lawn or boulevard is damaged by a sidewalk or street plow, you can report the damage to 311.  A member of our snow team will come out to inspect the property. Depending on snow conditions, that may occur fairly quickly or be delayed until the snow melts. You can accelerate the overall process by emailing photos to 311 if that is possible.

The cost of repairs is normally the responsibility of our snowplow contractor. Repair work will begin in the Spring once sod can be purchased from local suppliers.

Please note, that you are not allowed to have raised elements on the boulevard portion of your driveway and damage to features such as driveway curbs or markers will not be covered.

Here’s to good weather

Most of us like a little bit of snow, but almost all of us agree that we often get too much. Canadian winters can be long, but we can make winter a little bit brighter by helping each other through it. And better weather always comes — sooner or later.

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