Toronto Mayor John Tory has called for a review into winter operations after his office received many complaints from residents regarding snow removal services during last week’s winter storm.

Significant snowfall began in the city on Monday afternoon last week. By Tuesday morning, about 30 centimetres of snow had fallen at Pearson International Airport, while about 20 centimetres of snow fell in downtown Toronto. The accumulation created dangerous driving conditions throughout the city and caused major disruptions to transit services.

“I want to make sure we are providing the absolute best winter operations we can, recognizing that last week’s storm was one of the worst in a decade,” Tory said in a letter to Barbara Gray, the general manager of transportation services in Toronto.

Efforts to plow the city’s streets included the use of all 1,100 pieces of snow removal equipment that the city has access to.

But, Tory said many residents still “felt frustrated with the service they received.”

“During and after last week’s storm, my office alone had more than 150 calls and emails from residents who were dissatisfied with the city’s snow removal service,” he said. “Many of the complaints focused on sidewalk and windrow clearing.”

“We also know many TTC streetcars were stopped by cars parked illegally blocking the vehicle tracks – these foolish and inconsiderate decisions by individual drivers delayed hundreds of riders and is simply unacceptable.”

City councillors also received a “higher than normal volume of complaints” at the time of the significant snowfall, Tory said.

The review into winter operations in Toronto includes the following:

  • A study of service levels around snow removal and whether it should be increased
  • The threshold for declaring a major snow event to trigger parking restrictions along key routes so those routes can be cleared quicker and more thoroughly
  • How to establish a zero tolerance system for vehicles blocking streetcar routes to ensure they are removed immediately and that drivers face stiff penalties for this infraction
  • A look at best practices and technology used in other Canadian cities when dealing with snow and ice
  • The cost of clearing sidewalks in the Toronto and East York community council area and a detailed look at the benefits of harmonizing the city’s sidewalk clearing

“I believe this review is timely and important given the increasing unpredictability of our winter weather,” Tory said.