Snow Removal 101: The Facts on Snow Clearing in Terrace

Snow clearing update for January 6, 2022
Public Works
January 6, 2022

Road Clearing

The situation

We are aware of the community’s frustrations with our current road conditions. Multiple factors have caused us to fall behind in keeping up with the current conditions, including abnormal weather conditions, staff availability due to holidays, sickness, overtime limitations, and equipment limitations. Some roads have not been plowed since the most recent snowfall, and having the snow cleared sooner would have helped to avoid some of the recent slippery conditions.

We do not say this as an excuse but rather an opportunity to be transparent with the challenges Public Works experiences during winter storms. Our staff will continue to work around the clock to address these current road conditions. In addition, we are working internally on both short- and long-term solutions to some of the challenges faced over this holiday season and recent winter storm.

What’s happening currently?

Currently, graders with ice blades have been dispatched to roughen the compact snow before treating it with salt and sand to improve the traction on our roads. Placing sand and salt on the roads prior to ice blading is less effective since wind and traffic blows the mixture off the road. The ice blading provides some channels for the mixture to remain in place. The salt will not be effective in the low temperatures during an arctic outflow, but will activate once temperatures warm up.

Clearing downtown is a multi-step process and mostly occurs at night when the streets are empty of parked cars and traffic. Because graders only plow to the right, they must plow against traffic to pull the snow from the curb to the centre of the street, effectively blocking the street during that operation. The large windrows of snow and ice left in the middle of the street are later hauled away (again at night) by loaders and trucks to snow dumps; this process has recently been completed in our downtown core.

Some roads have not yet been plowed, but it is important to note that snow removal efforts are completed in accordance with the “Plowing Route Priority” described in the City of Terrace’s “Snow and Ice Control” Policy. The policy states that streets will be plowed according to the following priority: Hills, Hospitals and School Zones, Downtown Core, Arterial Streets, Local Residential Streets, Cul-de-sacs, and Alleys. Sidewalks will be plowed as resources are available. 

  • Southside:
    • Roads have been plowed, ice bladed, and sanded.
    • Sidewalks are currently being plowed and sanded.
  • Horseshoe:
    • Roads have been plowed and sanded. A grader is currently in the area ice blading.
    • Sidewalks have been plowed and sanded.
  • Bench:
    • Roads have been plowed and sanded. A grader is currently in the area ice blading.
    • Sidewalks have been plowed and sanded.

It is worth mentioning that the road conditions in areas outside of our municipal boundaries and on local highways are also in poor condition. This has been a challenging weather pattern for everyone involved in road snow removal, exasperated by staffing and supply challenges across every industry.

Sidewalk Clearing and Windrows

The situation

 We have received complaints regarding windrows in front of driveways which result from snow clearing roads and sidewalks with a grader. The availability of our two sidewalk machines to clear snow is affected by a number of issues including staffing limitations, breakdowns, unmanageable (dense, compact) snow conditions, and budgetary constraints. Sometimes our sidewalk machines aren’t the most efficient piece of equipment to use or are deployed elsewhere in order of priority. When our sidewalk machines aren’t available, we routinely use our grader to efficiently remove snow from sidewalks that are immediately adjacent to roads.

Given all these factors, our city-wide snow removal efforts are adjusted for any given situation, and focused on providing the most benefit to the city as fast as possible according to road/sidewalk location and traffic. As previously noted, snow removal is completed in accordance with the “Plowing Route Priority” described in the City of Terrace’s “Snow and Ice Control” Policy, which states that sidewalks are plowed as resources are available. Unfortunately, although using graders allows us to clear the sidewalk and the snow deposited on the sidewalk from the road faster, it also results in windrows in front of residences. 

Why we work the way we do

We apologize for the inconveniences caused by various snow clearing techniques. However, there is no easy way to avoid creating windrows across driveways when we are clearing roads and/or sidewalks with the equipment we have available to us:

  • Lifting or straightening the blade for every driveway is very time consuming and can result in a section of missed snow.
  • Directing the snow to a pile is inefficient and causes landscape damage and other liabilities.
  • We are limited to utilizing two sidewalk machines, which would take days to clear the network of sidewalks within the municipal boundaries. By the time crews are able to clear some sidewalks with the sidewalk machines, the snow would already be compacted and we would be unable to clear it properly, resulting in slippery conditions for pedestrians.
  • Using graders, sidewalk machines, or loaders to go back to clear windrows after roads/sidewalks are plowed is not efficient, sets an unsustainable and expensive precedent for clearing windrows throughout the city, and oftentimes causes extensive damage to landscaping concealed under the snow.

We do not want to create these windrows. We are constantly evaluating our snow removal procedures to identify areas for improvements, increase efficiencies, and limit the amount of snow being pushed across driveway accesses.   

Snow removal assistance

Residents seeking snow removal can hire a contractor or contact Volunteer Terrace, which runs a Snow Angels program each winter for those unable to clear their own driveways. For more information, check out Volunteer Terrace.

For seniors or physically challenged citizens who make use of those services, the City of Terrace has a financial assistance program that provides a rebate of 50% for costs associated with hiring a service provider to remove snow from their driveways, up to $250 per winter season. Like any civic program there are certain criteria that must be met and adhered to, but it is very popular with many residents that sign up and are reimbursed every spring. The service provider need not be a licensed contractor; we will reimburse a senior that hires the kid next door. However, it's important to get receipts or signatures from any service providers in order to claim the rebate. More information about the criteria and how to claim these rebates is available on our Snow Removal page. The application form can be found here.

A final word

We are constantly re-evaluating our equipment and snow clearing program and will consider other options in the future that fit within the many competing interests we are faced with. Preference is given to equipment that is best utilized in both the summer and winter months, such as graders vs. snow blowers.

Thank you for your patience and understanding and we hope this has helped explain the challenges that we (and many municipalities like ours) face during the winter season.

You can help by:

  • Being prepared with snow clearing equipment for your property
  • Lending a hand to neighbours who may not be able to clear their properties
  • Shovelling and blowing snow onto your own property, not into the street
  • Ensuring your vehicle is winter-ready and driving to conditions
  • Being prepared, using caution, and being aware of your surroundings while walking

Thank you and stay safe!

Snow FAQs and more


Additional Questions?
Contact Public Works: 250-615-4021

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