Snow Removal Frequently Asked Questions
How much plowing and snow removal is required?
CBRM crews are responsible for the winter maintenance of all streets within the former Towns of Glace Bay, New Waterford, Dominion, Louisbourg, North Sydney, Sydney Mines and the City of Sydney, as well as designated unlisted roads in the former County of Cape Breton (approximately 1000 lane kilometers). In addition the CBRM public works department maintains approximately 310 kilometers of sidewalks region wide. The Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Public Works provides winter maintenance for all streets/roads in the former County of Cape Breton except those unlisted roads designated as being maintained by the CBRM.
What is the process for plowing streets?
For the most part, the intensity and duration of a storm dictates when the plows are called out. Whenever possible the plows are called out just before the storm ends for reasons of efficiency. Generally the municipality is broken up into "plow routes" with a snowplow unit assigned to each route. Within each route, the priority streets, being those that are considered collector streets that tend to provide access to hospitals, business areas and main routes in and out of a community, are plowed first, followed then by residential streets.
In the event that a plow unit assigned to a "plow route" breaks down, plow units from other areas would provide mutual aid as they become available. In the case of a storm of extended duration, sufficient plows to maintain priority streets will be engaged initially, until conditions allow for normal "plow routes" to be followed.
Should weather conditions deteriorate to the point that plowing becomes dangerous, plowing may be suspended until conditions improve. A plow and operator may be stationed on standby at an appropriate location within the community, such as a fire department, until conditions allow it to begin plowing again.
Sometimes it seems to take longer to get the streets plowed, why is this?
On occasion snowstorms last for extended periods or are more difficult due to wet snow or drifting snow. A more significant factor is when a storm actually occurs. A storm during the day is complicated by heavier traffic, that is the Public Works crews lose the advantage of getting streets plowed when the general public is sleeping and no traffic is present and/or obstructing the operation.
What if there is an emergency?
Every effort will be made to respond to medical and fire emergencies. Requests authorized by appropriate personnel, will be processed through the 911 protocol. Unfortunately, plow routes cannot be changed to accommodate appointments of any kind.
How much snow does the Cape Breton Regional Municipality receive each winter?
On average the municipality receives approximately 300 centimeters (ten feet) of snow each winter. The most in a season is in the vicinity off 600 centimeters (20 feet). A major snowfall can produce accumulation exceeding 60 centimeters (24 inches) of snow.
My garbage is buried by the plow. What can be done?
The municipality encourages residents during the winter season to place their bags and bins far enough back on their driveway to avoid being buried.
What happens if the plow damages my property?
Damage from snow plowing does occur from time to time. Snowplow operators face many challenges in performing their work including limited lighting and/or poor visibility, pedestrians, parked cars and slippery conditions. Sometimes one or more of these factors could cause damage to lawns, etc. For the most part damages are minor and property owners make the necessary repairs themselves. However, in the event you are unable to do so report the damage to your local Public Works office. A staff member will take your name and address and enter this information into the database for spring restoration work. The repair process begins in the spring and is dependant on the weather, availability of material and its' priority set within the database. The CBRM does not repair or replace private items such as garbage containers or shrubbery placed within the street right of way (public property). Fences, ornaments, shrubberies, driveway edges, driveway curbs, mailboxes and walkways should be placed far enough back from the street right of way so that plow damage is avoided.
I've shoveled my driveway and a day or two later a plow has it filled back in, Why?
If drifting conditions persist after the normal plowing is accomplished or if streets become restricted due to snow accumulation, it is sometimes necessary to wing back the snow to further to improve safety, obtain maximum traffic flows, create storage for future snow and to clear catchbasins for potential storm water runoff. Unfortunately, this is a necessary procedure in our climate and is only taken when considered essential.
What sidewalks are plowed?
The Municipality does provide sidewalk winter maintenance. However due to physical constraints, such as the width of some streets and/or the sidewalk itself as well as fiscal limitations, the Municipality cannot plow and/ or salt all sidewalks. The Municipality therefore maintains only designated sidewalks that service areas with high volumes of traffic or are within areas that have schools, hospitals and commercial districts. Generally the sidewalks are cleared utilizing snow blades while effective. However when the amount of snow becomes so great that plowing is not effective, blower attachments are used. This method takes more time. Even though every effort is made to do so, the equipment and site conditions do not always allow clearing sidewalks down to a bare surface.
Why do plows push snow into driveways?
This is annoying but, unfortunately, the plow operators do not have control over the direction of the snow coming off the blades. For obvious reasons, plows are designed to discharge snow to the side of the street. Plow operators do not enjoy plugging driveways, it just can't be avoided.
When is salt applied?
De-icing of the streets and sidewalks is one of the most expensive aspects of winter maintenance. Furthermore recent studies have indicated that salt can be harmful to the environment. Therefore it is imperative that the use of salt is managed appropriately. Not all streets are salted every time there is a snow or ice event, nor can bare pavement be guaranteed.
Generally, Class I streets (high volume collector streets) are given priority followed by the Class II streets with hills, major intersections, etc. Salt is often applied at the beginning of a snowfall to create "salt brine" which breaks the bond between the street and snow or ice this is called anti-icing. Sand is used primarily on gravel roads. When temperatures are too low for salt to be effective sand is used in its' place.
Can I place snow on the sidewalk or street?
We realize that it is often difficult to find a place to shovel snow from your driveway. However, we ask for your cooperation in clearing the snow without placing it on the sidewalk or street, as it is can be dangerous for the public and our operators. Not to mention it is contrary to
our Traffic Bylaws.
I live on a corner lot, why do I end up with more snow piled at the bottom of my driveway or walkway?
Being within the radius of a turn, corner lots do tend to get more snow deposited as a result of street plowing.
This is not intentional but the result of the laws of physics. Although unavoidable, plow operators make every effort to minimize this problem. Properly locating driveways and walkways in relation to the intersection will minimize the problem.
Do winter conditions vary across the CBRM?
Believe it or not, they do. Because of the close proximity to large bodies of water, we can be impacted by varied weather patterns that result in several mini-climates within our boundaries. It is often common to have drifting snow and whiteout conditions in one part of a community and fine weather in another part of the same community. The CBRM is also subject to frequent freeze/thaw cycles, which play havoc on the condition of our streets and our maintenance efforts.
Can I park my car on the street in the winter?
Parked vehicles not only impede the snow clearing operation, but also leave large amounts of snow on the road after the car is removed. This is an inconvenience for everyone and in some cases can be quite dangerous. Regulations specific to winter parking are in place in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Failure to comply could result in the vehicle being ticketed and/or towed at the owner's expense.