toronto snow storm 2022

Toronto spent a ridiculous amount of money cleaning up from that wild blizzard

Embarrasing as it would have been for Toronto to call in the army over a snow storm (again), it probably would have been cheaper for the city to pull a Mel Lastman than to stage its own cleanup mission after January's mega-blizzard.

Alas, the City of Toronto took it upon itself — a noble, yet apparently expensive decision — to remove almost a month's worth of winter storm weather without any help from the feds (though the province did help out a bit.)

"On January 17, Toronto experienced a major winter storm that involved extreme cold temperatures, rapid snowfall and snow accumulation of 55 cm — one of the top-ten amounts of snow accumulation ever recorded in Toronto," reads a news release issued by the city on Tuesday.

"The speed of snowfall was exceptional, falling at a rate of up to five centimetres per hour. A rate of one centimetre per hour is normally defined as heavy, and a total accumulation of 10 centimetres is considered to be a large snow event in a city like Toronto."

No guff; that blizzard closed off the DVP, the Gardiner, parts of the 401 and pretty much every road within the downtown core, knocking out everything from Uber Eats to most of the TTC bus network. It was melee. Cold, white melee.

And cleaning up wasn't quick, easy or cheap thanks to subsequent rounds of ice and snow. In the end, it was hailed as the largest snow removal operation in Toronto history.

"A Major Snow Storm Condition was declared on January 17 and lasted for approximately one month. The storm required multiple rounds of plowing on all roads, sidewalks and bike lanes and required the removal of almost 180,000 tonnes of snow," reads the news release.

"The city's snow removal effort alone cost more than $17 million, or approximately 20 per cent of the annual winter maintenance budget for the Transportation Services division."

It is the hope that by analyzing what happened, city staff can spend considerably less money on such removal efforts in the future.

A report set to go before the city's Infrastructure and Environment Committee on March 29 details the challenges faced when attempting to remove and relocate high volumes of snow as quickly as possible.

"The report provides an update on the implemented and planned improvements to the City's winter weather preparedness and response plans," reads the release.

"This includes the development of an Extreme Winter Weather Response Plan, a review of the City's snow removal operations, a Severe Weather Event Communications Plan, working with the sidewalk snow plows supplier on expanding service and optimizing equipment performance, technology enhancements to PlowTO and the ability to scale up 311 operations quickly when needed."

Good to know, but let's hope that Toronto doesn't need to draw upon those resources for a very long time.

Lead photo by

Scott Rogers

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