Roads Services is responsible for the City’s snow and ice control program. It is committed to helping make Ottawa’s roads, sidewalks and cycling network safe and passable for vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. An effective winter maintenance program is essential to allow the City to function under normal winter weather conditions.
If you see a pothole that needs to be filled on a City street please make a service request or call 3-1-1.
Potholes are a result of the freeze/thaw weather cycles that deteriorate our road surfaces. During the freeze/thaw, water seeps into the crevices of the road. Fluctuations in temperature, vibrations and traffic volumes all create stress on the asphalt road surface, which can result in potholes.
What to expect during and after a storm
When roads get plowed
Snow removal is based on a road-priority system, with high-use roads and emergency and transit routes cleared first.
- Major roads, arterials and major collector roads: Plows are deployed at the start of accumulation.
- After the last snowflake falls:
- Major roads, arterials and major collectors: Within four hours
Roads will not be bare pavement during a storm.
- Minor collector roads: Within six hours
- Residential roads and lanes: Within 10 hours
- Major roads, arterials and major collectors: Within four hours
Under extreme winter storm conditions (i.e. those that exceed normal conditions), snow and ice control operations will be carried out based on the capacity of resources in as continuous a manner as practicable. This will give crews the flexibility to provide relief in residential areas while simultaneously maintaining and clearing priority roads.
When sidewalks get cleared
After the last snowflake falls:
- Sidewalks in the downtown core: Within 6 hours
- Downtown residential sidewalks: Within 12 hours
- Residential sidewalks: Within 16 hours
- Intersections and pedestrian crossings: Within 16 hours
- Bus stops: Within 24 hours after clean up
If your sidewalk has not been cleared 48 hours after the end of a snowfall, please call 3-1-1. The City does not clear snow from driveways or private sidewalks leading to a residence.
Clearing snow from your property
- Do not push snow and ice on the street, sidewalk or park.
- Keep fire hydrants free of snow.
- Use wood, plastic or fibreglass driveway markers, which should be no larger than a hockey stick.
- Open catch basins or drains in front of your property when the weather becomes mild.
- Catch basins are identified by a yellow “T” bar painted on the roadway.
A snow windrow is a pile of snow that accumulates at the end of driveways and on the sides of streets during plowing. It is the responsibility of the home owner to remove their own driveway windrows.
Garbage and recycling collection
Place garbage containers and bags and recycling bins at the curb. Do not place them behind or on top of snow banks.
Winter Weather Parking Ban
Between November 15 and April 1, the City may declare a Winter Weather Parking Ban for inclement weather including freezing rain or when Environment Canada forecasts 7 cm or more of snow in the Ottawa area. This includes any forecast for a range of snow more than 7 cm, such as 5 to 10 cm. The Winter Weather Parking Ban will be called to support clearing operations and will continue until the City issues notice that it has been lifted.
Vehicles without a residential parking permit that are parked on the street during a parking ban will be ticketed and towed.
When a winter weather parking ban is made, the City issues a special advisory to the local media and posts it on ottawa.ca. The parking ban ends when snow clearing is completed and the City issues an advisory indicating that it has been lifted.
Sign up for notifications
Where to park during a winter weather parking ban
Residents can park overnight at City parking garages during a winter weather parking ban. If you leave after the available overnight parking period ends, you will have to pay the regular parking rate for your stay.
City parking garages available during winter weather parking bans
210 Gloucester Street
- Available from 9 p.m. to 8:30 a.m
110 Laurier Avenue West
- Vehicles must exit between 4 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
762 Somerset Street West
- Available from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m
170 Second Avenue
- Available from 12 a.m. to 8 a.m.
70 Clarence Street
- Vehicles must exit between 4 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
141 Clarence Street
- Vehicles must exit between 4 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
33 Mann Avenue (uOttawa Mann garage)
- Vehicle parking available starting at 10 p.m. and must exit by 7:30 a.m.
Private parking lots
Below is a list of some downtown private parking lots that offer overnight parking. The City does not operate these lots and has no information about rates or availability; they are listed as a courtesy only.
- 33 Mann Avenue
- 320 Queen Street
- 350 Albert Street
- 427 Laurier Avenue West
- 328 Laurier Avenue West
- 45 O’Connor Street
- 63 Albert Street
- 150 Elgin Street
- 400 Cooper Street
- 343 Somerset Street West
- 140 Somerset Street West
- 354 Gladstone Avenue
- 240 McLeod Street
- 180 Argyle Avenue
- 150 Isabella Street
- 1 Rideau Street
- 700 Sussex Drive
- 24 York Street
- 41 George Street
- 80 Nicholas Street
- 55 Laurier Avenue East
- 5 Daly Avenue
- 363 Rideau Street
- 290 Rideau Street
- 265 Laurier Avenue West
- 100 Thomas Moore Private
- 801 King Edward Avenue
- 591 Byron Avenue
- 1015 Bank Street
How to find your car if it gets towed
Towed vehicles are usually moved to a nearby street where snow removal has already taken place. If you cannot find your vehicle, call the 3-1-1.
Impact on residential parking permit holders
If you have a residential parking permit, your vehicle is exempt from winter weather parking bans. Removing your vehicle from the street helps City crews clear the street faster.
Temporary no-parking signs
During planned snow removal, temporary "No Parking" signs are posted along streets to be cleared. This parking ban applies to all vehicles, including vehicles with residential parking permits. Any vehicle parked during a temporary "No Parking" ban will be ticketed and towed.
Help make sidewalks safe
To make sidewalks safe to walk on in the winter, the City provides do-it-yourself grit boxes close to steep hills and in areas where there are many pedestrians, seniors and persons using mobility devices. Residents are encouraged to spread the grit on slippery spots on sidewalks and other problem areas.
Where to find grit boxes
- 100 Constellation Drive
- 100 Empress Avenue
- 1200 Quigley Hill Road
- 150 MacLaren Street
- 207 Woodroffe Avenue
- 221 Nelson Street
- 25 Fairmont Avenue
- 264 Lisgar Street
- 294 Otterson Drive, at the Otterson Tunnel
- 31 McEwen Avenue
- 327 Cyr Avenue
- 395 Somerset Street West
- 4120 Riverside Drive
- 434 Brunskill Way
- 441 Edgeworth Avenue
- 5550 Ann Street
- 587 Fielding Drive, at the Otterson Tunnel
- 60 Cartier Street
- 61 McEwen Avenue
- 73 Rideau Street
- 75 Bruyère Street
- 77 Monk Street
- 800 St. Laurent Boulevard
- 905 Springland Drive, at the Flannery Tunnel
- 917 Cromwell Drive, at the Flannery Tunnel
- Corner of Beausoleil Drive and Cobourg Street
- Corner of Carling Avenue and Britannia Road
- Corner of Connaught Avenue and Sackville Street
- Corner of Dalhousie Street and Bolton Street
- Corner of Danforth Avenue and Churchill Avenue North
- Corner of Deschênes Street and Pooler Avenue
- Corner of Edgecliffe Avenue and Caldwell Avenue
- Corner of Elgin Street and Slater Street, south of the ramp
- Corner of George Street and William Street, by the pedestrian mall
- Corner of Heney Street and Wurtemburg Street
- Corner of Lacasse Avenue and Montreal Road
- Corner of Laurier Avenue West and Metcalfe Street
- Corner of Lenester Avenue and Iroquois Road
- Corner of Lepage Avenue and McBride Street
- Corner of MacLaren Street and Elgin Street
- Corner of Osgoode Main Street and Vance Street
- Corner of Maple Lane and Acacia Avenue
- Corner of Meadowlands Drive East and Chesterton Drive
- Corner of Metcalfe Street and MacLaren Street
- Corner of Morisset Avenue and Merivale Road
- Corner of New Orchard and Richmond Road
- Corner of Ohio Street and Bank Street
- Corner of Ravenhill Avenue and Melbourne Avenue
- Corner of Rideau Street and Charlotte Street
- Corner of Rideau Street and Colonel By Drive
- Corner of Rideau Street and Mackenzie Avenue
- Corner of Rideau Street and Wurtemburg Street
- Corner of Sunnyside Avenue and Bank Street
- Corner of Sunnyside Avenue and Riverdale Avenue
- Corner of Trépanier Lane and Sparkle Street
- Corner of York Street and William Street
- Northeast corner of Albert Street and Metcalfe Street
- Northeast corner of Gladstone Avenue and Rochester Street
- Northwest corner of Bank Street and MacLaren Street
- Southeast corner of Elgin Street and Cooper Street
- Southeast corner of Albert Street and Empress Avenue
- Southwest corner of Booth Street and Elm Street
- Southwest corner of Elgin Street and Laurier Avenue West
- Dead end of Augusta Street, near Beausoleil Drive
- Dead end of Echo Drive, near Avenue Road and Riverdale Avenue
- 67 Balsam Street
- Gladstone Avenue between Bayswater Avenue and Spadina Avenue
- 975 Gladstone Avenue
- Young Street between Bayswater Avenue and Fairmont Avenue
- Base of pathway at King Edward Avenue and Union Street
- Laurier Avenue Bridge, near the stairs on Colonel By Drive
- Mackenzie King Bridge, near the stairs on Colonel By Drive
- Bronson Avenue Bridge, near the stairs coming up from Colonel By Drive
- Bronson Avenue Bridge, near both the east and west stairs coming up from Queen Elizabeth Drive
- Underneath George Dunbar Bridge, between the stairs on Bronson Avenue
- Nicholas Street, at the stairs up to Mackenzie King Bridge
- Sparks Street between Elgin Street and Lyon Street North
- South side of the top of the hill at Acacia Lane
- 5512 Sand Road in Vars, ON
Snow plow road safety tips
When the snow falls, City crews immediately start clearing the way for you. With such a large network of roads, clearing snow from City streets requires collaboration and support from staff and residents. Residents can help make the process safer for everyone. One way to help is to please slow down and let snow plow operators lead the way when you see a blue light. Below are some additional tips that you can follow to make our roads safe and clear of snow.
- Be patient and keep a safe distance behind working snow plows. Snow plows often travel slowly because they are removing snow, spreading salt or sand and applying liquid anti-ice to roadways.
- Never pass a snow plow. Snow plows are wider than the average vehicle with large blades that extend a metre or more ahead and into the neighbouring lane. Passing a snow plow on the right could result in severe and even fatal collisions.
- Don’t drive beside snow plows. Snow plows sometimes shift sideways when they are plowing packed snow or drifts which could put you at risk for a collision.
- Move aside. Snow plows often drive along the centre line of a roadway to remove snow. If you are approaching a snow plow from the opposite direction, shift right, if conditions allow, to ensure there is enough space for the plow to pass you safely.
- Beware of reduced visibility. Even at reduced plowing speeds, a light powdery snow forms a cloud in the wake of a snow plow that severely restricts a driver’s visibility. This makes passing extremely dangerous.
- Do not pass between snow plows in tandem. On multi-lane roads snow plows often work in tandem, forming an echelon or “conga line”. Passing or weaving between these plows is dangerous. Please stay well back of echelon plows.
- Watch for snow plows on sunny days. Snow plows and removal equipment are out for several hours and even days after a storm clearing shoulders and cutting back snow banks. Please be aware of plows even on clear days.
- Teach children to play away from the road. The driver of a snow plow may not be able to see a child playing in the snow.
- Children should never build snow forts or tunnels along the roadway. Snow forts and tunnels may collapse or be pushed down by snow plows or removal equipment.
- Pedestrians should ensure they are visible. Pedestrians should move back from the road if they see or hear a snow plow approaching.
City Snow Vehicle Receives Sideguard Safety Device
The City of Ottawa's Fleet Services team recently completed the installation of a sideguard on a snow plow. This barrier, which was gifted to the City is intended to serve as an additional safety measure for cyclists and pedestrians.
How the City maintains roads in the winter
How roads are cleared
After a severe snow storm, operators may have to plow a street twice. Sometimes a grader or dump truck with front and wing plows will do a first pass, followed by a sand/salt truck, to clear a small amount of snow and make sanding/salting more effective.
To clear a cul-de-sac, operators will push the remaining snow to the centre or outside of the street, depending on the available area.
In the early winter, the City removes ruts that have formed on snow-packed surfaces. This keeps catch basin open and helps prevent flooding.
Salt and sand
The City applies dry salt, wet salt, sand salt mix, liquid brine and abrasive materials on streets. Salt is spread early during a snowstorm to make a brine solution that prevents the ice from sticking to the asphalt.
To minimize salt use, rock salt is sprayed with a liquid de-icer as it is spread. This speeds up ice melting by making the salt sticky so it can adhere to the road.
Anti-icing is used before or at the beginning of freezing rain or other winter precipitation. The de-icing solution consists of pre-wetted salt or a liquid solution. It is applied to the Transitway and Highway 174 to prevent ice from forming and bonding to the pavement.
Abrasive materials such as sand are used to increase traction in colder temperatures when salt is not effective.
Snow removal and disposal
The City aims to distribute snow on both sides of the road. Snow banks are removed or reduced in size when they begin to restrict sightlines, travel widths, and pedestrian and cycling traffic. Snow banks that restrict sightlines at intersections and at pedestrian, school and railway crossings are removed within 24 hours after crews are made aware of the situation. If weather permits, snow banks are pushed back to curbs to provide more driving width on the roads and to make space to store snow.
The City’s snow disposal facilities do not accept snow from private operators. To find private snow disposal facilities, consult the Yellow Pages, Greater Ottawa Truckers Association or Ottawa Construction Association.
Snow fences reduce the build-up of drifting snow and ice on roads, and improve visibility for motorists. The City installs wood-slat snow fences or partners with local farmers for corn or tree fences.
Plant a snow fence
The City encourages landowners who plant corn to participate in the Alternative Snow Fencing Program.
In late summer, participating landowners leave six to 12 rows of standing corn parallel to the road and 20 metres from the road’s right-of-way property line. In December, landowners are paid an amount based on the market value per tonne of the unharvested corn, the yield of tonnes per acre, the actual acres standing and for spring clean-up work
In non-agricultural areas, landowners can plant trees 20 metres from the right-of-way property line.
To find out more, please call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401).
If the temperature rises above zero degrees Celsius in a short period of time, flooding can occur. The City maintains drainage systems to reduce potential flooding conditions. City crews remove snow and ice from catch basins on roads and sidewalks to ensure melting snow drains when required. It is normal for water to pool around a catch basin in wet weather. Roads are designed to drain based on the sewer capacity. Roadside ditches are cleared at the outlet end of the ditch system to provide drainage for the spring melt.
Report a problem with a road, sidewalk, or pathway (winter)
For all emergency requests call 3-1-1. If this service is not available to you please call 613-580-2400. All other Service Requests will be triaged and addressed as operations allow.
Please call 3-1-1 if the issue is related to the following:
- An immediate hazard to people or property
- Personal accessibility
- A traffic-related issue (such as traffic signals or traffic signs)
Report a problem with:
For issues regarding general road and sidewalk maintenance (no snow or ice), visit the summer road and sidewalk maintenance page.
Report property damage by city vehicle
While performing City maintenance operations, City equipment may sometimes damage lawns and/or roadside mailboxes.
If your lawn was damaged during winter road maintenance operations, you may report the situation to the City at anytime. The City will investigate these reports in early Spring, once the snow and ice has melted. Areas determined by the City to have been damaged by city vehicles will subsequently be scheduled for repair using topsoil and seed.
If your mailbox was damaged during City maintenance operations, the City will investigate and respond.
You will be required to provide:
- The street name and number or street name and intersection
Catch Basin Locator Map
The City of Ottawa has over 100,000 catch basins to provide drainage to our roadways and greenspaces.
The catch basins depicted in this interactive map are derived from existing and collected engineering drawings for the City of Ottawa's Geographic Information System and are protected by copyright. The locations of this infrastructure information are approximate, and should not be used for construction purposes.