All hands on deck: How Team Ottawa responds to a winter storm

Published on
March 8, 2024
Parking, roads, traffic and transit

Feature story

This story is part of the City of Ottawa Service Reviews: an initiative aimed at ensuring our services are meeting your needs. Visit today.

While this winter has been a little different than usual, when a snow or ice storm is creeping in, various teams from across the City are working diligently behind the scenes to prepare. Their number one priority is ensuring the transportation network is safe for travel and that you are kept informed.

A snow plow, in the dark, with its lights on plowing a street while it is snowing. / Un chasse-neige éclairant de ses feux la rue à déneiger dans la nuit.

The 2022/2023 winter season had 89 winter events, averaging at about 3.7 per week, and received over 329 centimetres of snow – that’s 133 centimetres more than the 2021/2022 season! Ottawa also got over 212 millimetres of winter rain, 92 hours of freezing rain and 75 freeze/thaw cycles.

With numbers like these, it makes sense that a multi-departmental response is necessary. Some examples of Team Ottawa’s efforts in responding to a winter storm include, but are not limited to:

  • The Roads and Parking Services team keeps Ottawa moving by treating and clearing all our transportation networks and keeping them safe throughout the winter season.
  • Fleet Services prioritizes repairs and ensures our equipment is in good working order to tackle any winter storm. Each fall, Fleet Services staff conduct driver assessments and driver training to ensure our operators are competent and safe on our roadways.
  • By-law and Regulatory Services enforces no parking during a winter weather parking ban to effectively clear and maintain the width of streets and to avoid any damage to vehicles. They use their social media accounts to get the word out that a ban is in effect.
  • The 3-1-1 Call Centre fields thousands of calls from residents about our winter operations during and after a storm.
  • For very large storms, the Office of Emergency Management brings the City’s operational groups together to ensure a collaborative approach in responding to a Significant Weather Event.
  • Communications teams share important information both internally and externally, including the winter parking ban notification, PSAs, social media posts and more.
  • Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services, Transit Services and Ottawa Public Libraries open some facility parking spots to provide temporary off-street parking during Significant Weather Events.
  • Parks Maintenance adjusts winter maintenance activities of these facility parking lots to allow for off-street parking during these events.
  • Translation Services quickly translates important messaging for residents to ensure our information is bilingual.
  • Other services within Public Works develop maps, administer salt management and compile important data.

Your city, your ideas!

This story is another example of how the City uses innovation and best practices to continuously evolve its planning, coordination and response to winter storms. Do you have creative ideas related to this or other City services? Share your ideas at

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