Snow Removal Process

City snow plow on side street

There are a number of roads within St. Catharines that are owned by the Regional Municipality of Niagara. The City has an agreement with the Niagara Region to maintain a number of these roads during the winter.

Check out our snow removal maps to learn more about our plowing routes:

View this PDF list of all roads and categories to find out your street's road classification.

Priority Roads

Priority Roads include high traffic volume roads, critical areas, steep hills, bridges, curves, emergency, fire, & hospital routes. All Priority Roads are cleared to bare pavement condition and are our first priority before snow removal begins on other roads. 

Main Roads & Designated Secondary Roads

Main Roads include medium volume roads, bus routes, less critical hills and curves and school areas. These roads are only cleared after Priority Roads are bare pavement. Designated Secondary Roads are only cleared after Main Roads have been addressed.

Residential Roads

Residential Roads include all other streets within St. Catharines. These roads are not maintained to a bare pavement condition. They are plowed and sanded as necessary to provide safe travel. They are only serviced after the Priority Roads, Main Roads and Designated Secondary roads have been cleared to an acceptable level.

Service Response Targets

Service Level Targets

Depending on when the winter event occurs, the target service times may be less than those specified. Nevertheless, in situations where deployment resources are limited, Primary and Main Routes will receive first attention. Only after these classifications are addressed, will operations shift to addressing Secondary classifications.

If the forecasted and/or occurring winter weather poses an extreme hazzard to road users, a Significant Weather Event may be declared by the City. When a Significant Weather Event is declared, the normal working hours may be extended.

Snow Removal Complaints

Individuals who believe a street or sidewalk has not been cleared to meet the above service levels can file a report via the City's Snow Removal Reporting Form, for review after priority snow-removal efforts have completed.

 Before a Winter Event


Staff constantly track weather patterns to determine a winter storm's potential impact on the city.

In some instances, crews apply a layer of brine to Priority Roads in the city prior to an anticipated winter event. The brine causes snow and ice to melt and prevents them from bonding to the road surface, which makes snow plowing more effective.

Brine application can take place days or several hours before the start of the winter event, depending on weather conditions.

 During a Winter Event


The following steps outline how we keep roads clean and passable during snow and ice events. Steps are subject to change based on weather and staffing conditions, and should be considered only as a guide.

  1. Salting trucks are dispatched to priority roads when it starts to snow. Once the salt begins to work trucks will begin plowing the priority roads as required. All priority roads are cleared to bare pavement before snow removal begins on other roads. For example, if Mountain Road has been plowed, but continued snowfall has again covered the road, the truck will plow the road again before moving on to non-priority roads.
  2. Main roads will be salted and plowed only after all priority roads are cleared to an acceptable level. 
  3. Designated secondary roads will be salted and plowed only after all main roads are cleared to an acceptable level. 
  4. If the residential roads meet the snow or ice accumulation threshold & all designated secondary roads have been plowed, crews will begin sanding and plowing residential roads. If the snow on residential roads is too heavily packed from traffic, plowing becomes ineffective. The best option at that point is to apply sand to provide traction for traffic.

Our first priority is keeping priority roads clear. During severe and continuous snowfalls it may take longer to complete snow plowing on residential roads. Please wait 24 hours after the snow has stopped falling before calling to let us know if your street has not been plowed.

Equipment with flashing blue lights are either spraying brine, salting, sanding or plowing - please remain a safe distance back. Please note that winter control equipment must travel at reduced speeds to ensure proper plowing or brine/salt/sand application. 

 Salting and Sanding


Salt is applied along the priority routes early in a storm event in order to prevent snow from adhering to the pavement. This allows the plow to clear the streets more effectively.

Salting may be repeated, as necessary, until a bare pavement condition is achieved. Critical areas, such as steep hills, curves, bridges, intersections and approaches to railway crossings receive top priority.

The City has developed a Salt Management Plan with the goal of minimizing the use of salt on City streets due to its detrimental effect on our environment. To this end, salt is only applied to the priority routes, main routes and designated secondary routes. It is not normally used on secondary streets. Instead, sand is used on secondary streets and in agricultural areas to provide traction and reduce slippery conditions.

In addition, salt is not used on any roads when temperatures become so low that it can no longer effectively melt ice. A Salt Management Plan was approved by council in 2008.

View the Staff Report to Council Regarding the Salt Management Plan.


Other Considerations 


The Ministry of Transportation is responsible for snow removal on all 400 series highways and the QEW. City crews do not plow highways or on/off ramps. Contact the Provincial Call Centre at 1.800.268.4686 for highway winter road conditions or to report dangerous conditions.

Parks and trails

City parks and trails are closed in the winter. Therefore, City crews do not provide snow removal service for parks and trails, or parking lots connected to parks and trails.

Canada Post Superboxes

Canada Post is responsible for clearing snow away from the base around superboxes.

Bus Routes

Roads that service transit are classified as main roads.

Bus shelters

St. Catharines Transit is responsible for clearing snow from around bus shelters.

School crossings

The City provides salt boxes at school crossings. Crossing guards will spread salt at these areas as required.

Copyright © 2014 The Corporation of the City of St. Catharines