FAQ: How Much Snow Triggers a Residential Street Plough-outs?

With rain in the forecast for this coming week….here’s what you need to know about residential snow clearing.

When snow accumulation reaches 10 cm, a full residential plough-out is triggered.  This could be 8 cm all at once, or 5 cm one day and 5 cm the next day.  Of course, there are always exceptions when public safety or driving conditions require action (ie. slush or ruts). If warranted, the GM, Public Works may call for a full residential plough-out before the 10 cm threshold is reached.

Once a residential plough-out is called, it will take at least 24 hours to clear all of the residential streets in the city.  Arterial roads and transit routes will take priority.  Everything you are itching to know about snow removal can be found HERE on the City of Guelph website.


FAQ: What is the Threshold for Snow Ploughing on Residential Streets?

QUESTION:  What is the threshold for the amount of snowfall to trigger ploughing on residential streets?

ANSWER:  The Council-approved policy to trigger ploughing on residential streets is 10 cm (cumulative).  Our Public Works staff monitor snowfall throughout the city, but some areas obviously are harder hit than others.  If you are experiencing difficulty driving on your street, the best way to request service from our Public Works team is to fill out a work order using the How Can We Help You? customer service portal.

Link here  How Can We Help You?

STAFF MEMO: Street Plough-out Underway

Staff Memo from Public Works:

Good afternoon everyone.


Please be advised that staff are continuing to service the primary and secondary roadway systems throughout the City and have begun operations in the residential areas. It is likely that due to lower than forecast temperatures, contracted staff will be engaged to aid in the snow and slush removal in the residential areas. The intent in this operation is to stay ahead of the expected freezing conditions by have having as much snow and slush removed as possible in advance of a freeze-up.

Staff will continue to monitor and react to conditions throughout the weekend and into Monday morning.


As of 12.00 noon today, the majority of primary and secondary routes have been plowed and work has begun in the residential routes. The primary and secondary routes  require further work with material applications, that will begin this afternoon.   

Staff will continue to monitor and react to conditions throughout the weekend and into Monday morning.

We will provide further updates later today at approximately 10.00 pm.

Public Works Staff

Have Your Say: Overnight On-Street Parking

From Rodney Keller, GM, Public Works: (edited for length)

City staff are initiating a review of the current overnight on-street parking restrictions for the City of Guelph. As part of this review, staff will examine options that may potentially maintain, add to, change or eliminate the existing overnight on-street parking by-law.

Currently, the by-law restricts parking on city streets from 2-6 a.m. during the winter season from November 1 to April 30. However, a number of streets, generally located in older areas of the city, are exempted from this restriction.

Following the principles of the Community Engagement Framework, staff will be embarking on a consultative approach to gaining the community stakeholder input.

A  public consultation session will be held on:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014, 6 p.m.,

Galleria, City Hall, 1 Carden Street.

At the session, the public will have an opportunity to provide input about alternatives to be considered for overnight on-street parking in Guelph. The public may also provide comments by participating in the online survey. The survey will be open from February 13 to March 12, 2014 on guelph.ca/parking.

Ice Storm Clean Up Still Underway

City Public Works and Forestry staff are still working diligently to clean up after the ice storm. Removal of tree branches from residential neighbourhoods is ongoing. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding. The ice storm hit our urban forest harder than the two previous wind storms during the summer. It is estimated that it will take 6-8 weeks to clear all the downed branches.

More information here: http://guelph.ca/2013/12/cleanup-underway-aftermath-storm/

A Parking Problem or a Driving Problem?

Streets in Ward 5 have a parking problem, there’s no doubt about it.  Essex Street is overwhelmed, and nearby overflow streets on Kent, Fountain, Surrey and Nottingham are just as crowded.  Why ?  Because they are within walking distance of downtown.   Fairview, Forbes, Vardon, James, Dean, all within walking distance to the University, are bumper to bumper all day, Monday to Friday.  Harvard, Yewholme and Rickson are also lined with cars, all within walking distance to the Research Park, OMAFRA and the University.


I first noticed this phenomenon about five years ago, but can honestly say it has grown into an unmanageable situation over the last 1-2 years.  Is it a lack of parking downtown or on campus?  It appears on the surface a simple answer, but that is not universally the case.  Daytime parking capacity exists, according to reports, in the downtown, in university lots and at the Research Park and OMAFRA.   All of these are paid lots.   It appears the drivers just simply would prefer to park for free.

Where does this leave residents?  They feel hostage, they cannot invite guests to their homes Monday to Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Their children are at risk, with bumper to bumper cars and no gaps.  No room for service or utility or delivery trucks to stop, so they stop in the middle of the street blocking traffic.  Snow and leaf pick-up are problematic, if not impossible.  In many cases, homeowners can’t even safely exit their own driveways due to the congestion and sight line obstruction.

Legally, the roadways are public and anyone can park (subject to posted street restrictions).  But it is getting ridiculous.  Is it a parking problem or a driving problem?  Is public transit an alternative to the hundreds of cars lining and blocking residential streets five days a week, 8 hours a day?

One solution is to create localized parking restrictions that will discourage the behaviour, such as a two-hour limit, or opposite side only parking.  Residents who want to pursue this option can contact me and I will forward your contact information to our Parking staff.  Beware, there are so many streets on the list for this type of relief, that it might take a while.   Another option is to educate the drivers who are clogging our neighbourhoods — flyers on windshields, more frequent enforcement, etc.  Will it work? Perhaps some drivers will succumb to their sense of community and splurge for a parking pass or try transit…and maybe not.  One thing for sure, it is getting worse and it is time for action.


A Whole Lot of Mulch for Guelph

cleanup_july2013I’m feeling pretty good about my city today.

You can tell a lot about a place, and its people, by its response during and after an unexpected event, like a massive thunderstorm, for example.

We’ve had three major storms since April, all resulting in significant private and public damage to trees, hydro lines, etc. Response is swift to emergency situations, and Guelph Police, Fire and EMS work in harmony to triage and respond to life safety situations, often while the storm is still in progress. Guelph Hydro crews and Public Works are partners in the response, getting power restored and keeping roadways clear for traffic and transit. They’ve got systems in place and great people on the job. They’ve done it all before, and inevitably will again…

But what about the “customer service” side?  That’s when a city and its people really shine.

The storm that rolled through last night gave me a first hand glimpse of the human impact side of service delivery.

When the storm hit, my boulevard tree cracked, and landed on my roof and front porch. I wasn’t too worried as damage to the house appeared minimal, but I was worried about the suspended limb over the sidewalk for public safety reasons. I called the Public Works 24 hour line (which, btw, is 519-837-5628) and got a real live person, who was calm and had a good sense of humour given the volume of calls. I thought this would be a good opportunity to be anonymous (I did not want any perception of a different level of service because of my council position) so did not give my full name. She outlined the process for response priority and ensured that I knew my call was in the hopper. Great service.

cstdanmoseyThen I took a walk post-storm down to Royal City Park – wow, what a mess! GPS was on site on Gordon Street, responding to a tree limb on a car — a woman and two kids — and Cst. Dan Mosey was simultaneously securing the perimeter, keeping gawkers (including myself, gulp) away from suspended limb risk nearby, clearing the road of minor debris, assessing immediate risk in the park, and providing comfort to the three shaken passengers. Outstanding service.

A few block away on Fountain Street West, three trees had fallen into the roadway and damaged vehicles and obstructed traffic. One resident brought out a chainsaw and, with the help of a few other neighbours, began removing the larger pieces to re-open the road. Traffic was moving again with a half hour. Amazing citizen teamwork.

This morning, Public Works responded to the downed tree at my home address. I watched as Supervisor Ed assessed the risk, engineered the removal, called the team, and in less than an hour, it was hard to tell there was ever a tree on my porch.

It was the customer service aspect that struck me the most. The team was a mix of forestry staff and redeployed road staff. They were professional, talked to neighbours, and exhibited teamwork at its best. Awesome job.

As they finished up the job and headed off to the next address (and many more that day), one of the crew said it best.  He remarked, “We gotta look at the bright side….now we’ve got a whole lot more mulch.”

So to all the men and women working last night and today to clean up our city — Public Works, Guelph Police, Guelph Fire, EMS, and Guelph Hydro — and our residents who are helping out where they can removing debris off sidewalks and storm drains, a big thank you!  You make Guelph a great place to live!