toronto snow

This is why it took so long to get Toronto sidewalks cleared after this week's blizzard

The blizzard that hurled historic levels of snow at Toronto and the rest of Southern Ontario on Monday led to heaps of fun (read: chaos) for the city, between eight hour traffic jams, widespread road and business closures, stalled public transit vehicles that are still being dug out from the mess and more.

While the snowfall was indeed in excess of normal amounts for the season, given that we do live in Canada and experience this type of weather (albeit to a lesser degree) every year, many wondered why the cleanup took so long to get started and is still taking days to complete.

One particular pain point has been the lack of adequate snow clearing on sidewalks, which pedestrians are now finding to be in worse condition in the days following than during the storm itself.

Part of this is due to the efforts of snow plows that prioritize roadways over all else and thus sometimes create more headaches for non-drivers, but also because a shortage of sidewalk plows, which meant that the work was delayed in getting started.

A large chunk of a brand new $5.3 million fleet of machinery purchased last year to better clear Toronto's sidewalks was apparently not in proper working order on Monday, with only 34 of 50 of the specialized plows available to be dispatched.

According to the CBC, in some parts of the city, only a quarter of the new Holder plows that should have been out cleaning up were actually doing so amid the storm, the remainder sitting idle with mechanical issues.

It wasn't until Tuesday that the cleanup really got underway, with 600 road plows, 200 salt trucks and 360 sidewalk plows (some of them the Holder version) finally sent out under a major snowstorm condition alert.

It was just last year that the city responded to a flood of complaints by vowing to do a better job cleaning up its footpaths during the winter months, primarily through the purchase of these new machines, which can better maneuver around the more narrow walkways of the downtown core, where existing plows can't go.

Staff have done multiple passes over thousands of kilometres of sidewalk in the last two days, hopefully making things easier for those trying to get around who may have been unable to earlier in the week.

But, some in the city were reporting that they were still completely snowed in Wednesday night, more than 48 hours after the blizzard ended.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert


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