Toronto planning on expanding sidewalk snow clearing

Smaller, more nimble sidewalk plows can access 91% of all city sidewalks

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Those tired of shovelling their sidewalks are in for a cool treat.

Mayor John Tory announced plans to expand the city’s snow removal program to ensure 91% of sidewalks are cleared.

“This means when the snow starts to fall … 7,300 kilometres of sidewalks in the city will be cleared,” Tory said at a Monday morning press conference. Up until now, the city had cleared about 6,000 kilometres of sidewalk when snow fell.

“This is a very solid step forward for the City of Toronto, and I am confident my council colleagues will approve this and move forward with it in plenty of time for next winter.”

Discussions to expand the program came out of 2019’s snowy winter, Tory said, prompting him to urge city officials to take a second look at winter clearing operations.

Under a pilot project this past winter, nine smaller, more nimble sidewalk snowplows proved a big success, Tory said. The new plows were tested on nine routes throughout the city not previously accessible by the current plows.

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The new plows — Holder x45i tractors with both blade and snowblower attachments — are narrower and wield more flexible blades than the city’s other machines.

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The city is looking at purchasing 59 of the new plows, along with 17 pickup trucks as support vehicles. It will cost $5.3 million to begin the project’s first stage.

Hiring additional workers and support trucks will cost an extra $4 million annually.

The city’s current snow clearing machines are unable to access about 1,300 kilometres of sidewalks.

Sidewalks that still won’t be serviced include those obstructed by utility poles, fire hydrants, trash bins, and retaining walls.

The city’s infrastructure and environment committee is poised to deal with the issue on May 25.

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On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume

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