Toronto opens 311 line for snow-clearing complaints in wake of this week’s blizzard

The City of Toronto says residents can now call its 311 phone line to request snow clearing as many citizens tell CBC News their streets still aren’t plowed three days after a major storm.

The city declared a “major snowstorm condition” allowing it to tow cars that obstructed its plows to ensure that its crews could clear the streets after about 36 cm of snow fell on Monday.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said at a Thursday news conference that 311 requests will be dealt with in order of priority. 

“We’re doing our very best to respond to places that have been either missed or need a second or third visit in order to address things like snow on the sidewalk,” he said.

He said now that much of the clearing across Toronto is done, the city can respond to requests for snow removal in specific areas.

People avoid a puddle, some more successfully than others, in downtown Toronto on Wednesday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“We’re working at this 24 hours a day. Every piece of equipment, every crew is deployed.”

Vincent Sferrazza, maintenance and operations director with Toronto’s transportation services, said they began accepting 311 service requests for sidewalks Thursday morning.

“We encourage the general public to give us a call and help us identify if there are any missed areas,” he said. “It is ongoing as we speak today.”

Many streets still need clearing, residents say

A number of Toronto residents contacted CBC News via email about areas that still haven’t been plowed several days after the snowfall. 

Nathan Dykstra, who lives near Ossington and Dupont, said he has “yet to see a sidewalk plowed by the city or a non-arterial road that has been plowed since Monday’s snowfall.” 

He said he has two young children, ages four and two, who attend school and daycare at Essex Public School.

“Both days when I dropped off my kids, traffic was completely backed up along Essex [Street] all the way to Christie because a school bus was stuck,” he said. 

“Not only is it incredibly frustrating trying to navigate the unplowed and barely shovelled sidewalks with a stroller, but the lack of plowed streets, especially in front of schools, is a real safety hazard and somebody is going to get hurt.”

Steph Bellana, who lives close to Lawrence Park Collegiate Institute near Avenue Road and Lawrence, said sections of the sidewalk leading up the school hadn’t been cleared as of 12:30 p.m. on Thursday. 

“The students have to walk down the road to get to school. With the traffic, snow banks, ice and teenage drivers it is quite unsafe,” she said.

Louise Simos, who lives in Davisville Village, said several streets in her neighbourhood had not been plowed as of noon on Thursday. Now that there is thick, solid ice on the road, the window to plow the streets “seems a bit closed,” she said.

“We’re hemmed in with permit parking and narrow streets and often get missed.”  

A view of snow plows clearing a ramp at the Don Valley Parkway and the west-bound Highway 401 on Tuesday. (Sue Reid/CBC)

All major Mississauga roads are clear, mayor says

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said Mississauga saw 45 cm of snow on Monday, “the most snow that our city has seen in a single day since 1944.”

“Our crews have literally been working non-stop over the last few days, and I’m happy to report that all major roads and sidewalks and the vast majority of bus stops and residential streets have now been cleared,” Crombie said during a news conference on Thursday. 

Crombie said none of the major roads were closed and there were no reports of serious accidents. The city did see delays on a number of MyWay transit routes because several buses were stuck in the snow, she said. 

Crombie said staffing levels at the city have been stable despite the impact of the Omicron variant. 

Less than five percent of city staff are off because of COVID-19-related illness or isolation, and Mississauga Fire, Peel Region police and Peel Paramedics have maintained service levels, she said.

She added that although some transit routes have been suspended temporarily, MyWay buses are operating at 88 per cent capacity.

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