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Snow Zones and Routes

What is a Snow Zone?

The City is geographically divided into 11 Snow Zones, lettered A-K. Snow Zones comprise several neighbourhoods and are used for scheduling and communicating the snow plowing schedule. If you don’t know your Snow Zone, you can find it here: Know Your Snow Zone.

What is a Route?

We use a coloured Route system to identify different types of streets. In residential areas there are two types of Routes – Green and Grey. Green Routes are typically bus routes with higher volumes of traffic and they feed the residential streets (Grey Routes). It’s important to know if you live on a Green Route or a Grey Route because they are plowed at different times. You can find out your Route here: Know Your Snow Zone.

Does plowing always start in Snow Zone A?

No, plowing starts in a different Snow Zone each time residential plowing is triggered.

Residential plowing (Green and Grey Routes)

When does residential plowing start?

Residential plowing is triggered when we reach a 10 cm snowpack, which is equal to about 30-40 cm of accumulation. Conditions can vary across the city but our goal is to ensure streets are safe and accessible throughout the winter.

How will I know when residential plowing has been triggered?

The start of residential plowing will be communicated in the following ways:

  • On The City’s Facebook and Twitter pages;
  • Through local media;
  • On electronic message board signs in your neighbourhood;
  • Snow Zone email alerts.
How do I find out when my street will be plowed?

A number of tools are available to help you find out when your Snow Zone will be plowed:

  • Sign up to receive Snow Zone alerts by text, email or phone and you’ll receive notification two days in advance of plowing. Sign up using Notify Red Deer.
  • Check The City’s Snow Plowing Schedule and Map webpage for a live map and schedule.
  • Follow The City on Facebook and Twitter for updates.
  • Call the Snow Zone hotline at 403-406-8796.
Why aren’t the red “no parking” signs used on all streets during plowing?

It takes significant resources to sign individual streets, and our resources are focused on plowing to ensure streets can be plowed quickly and efficiently. Signs are used as follows:

  • Green Routes: The red “No Parking” signs are placed on streets approximately every 50m, at least 12 hours in advance of plowing.
  • Grey Route: The red "No Parking" signs are no longer used; intead, large signs are placed at the entrances to neighbourhoods at least 12 hours in advance of plowing.

Traffic Bylaw 3186/A-2014 was amended in October 2014 to allow this change in signage on Grey Routes. The bylaw states “…moveable signs to be placed on or near a roadway at the entrance to an area where on-street parking is temporarily suspended due to road or snow plowing or removal activities at least 12 hours prior to the parking restrictions taking effect.”

Why can’t you knock on doors to let residents know they need to move their car instead of issuing tickets?

In the past, Commissionaires would sometimes knock on doors to notify residents about plowing; however, this is not a sustainable practice given our growing city. We need vehicles to be moved from the street before crews arrive, otherwise they have to sit idle while vehicles are moved, which is not an effective use of resources. 

Will there be windrows?
Green Routes

Snow is removed from Green Routes so there are no windrows. Green Routes are collector routes, meaning they typically have higher traffic volumes and provide access from residential streets to arterial routes, transit routes and schools. Removing snow from Green Routes helps to keep traffic moving efficiently after a snowfall.

Grey Routes

These streets are surface plowed to a 5 cm snowpack with windrows on both sides of the street. Windrows from driveways facing the street are cleared by City crews and added to the existing windrows on the street.

Note: Your Snow Zone and Route are determined by your street address, which may be different than your driveway access.

What if I’m going to be away for an extended period of time? What if residential plowing start while I’m away?

According to The City’s Traffic Bylaw 3186/97 (pdf) , a vehicle can’t be left parked for longer than 72 hours so if you’re out of town for an extended period of time you should make alternate arrangements for parking, especially during the winter. Consider using your off-street parking spots or make arrangements with a family member or friend to move your vehicle.

Snow and Ice Operations

What triggers snow plowing in the city?

During a typical snowfall, here’s when we plow roads:

RouteLocationTrigger/Target
Purple Hills, bridges, overpasses, high hazard
locations and hospital access.
Plow within 8 hours of 5 cm accumulation.
Red Major arterial roads Plow within 72 hours of 8 cm accumulation.
Zone D
(Downtown)
Downtown roads

Plow and remove within 4 days of
10 cm snow pack
(30-40 cm accumulated snowfall).
Plowing happens overnight
(7 p.m. to 7 a.m.)

Green Collectors, Transit Routes, and
residential streets adjacent to schools

Plow and remove within 15 days of a
10 cm snow pack
(30-40 cm accumulated snowfall).

Grey Residential streets Plow within 15 days of a 10 cm
snow pack (30-40 cm accumulated
snowfall); plowed to a 5 cm snow pack
and windrows on both sides of the street.
Orange Industrial and commercial areas  Plow within 5 days of a 15 cm snow pack,
plowing can start prior to the 15 cm trigger
when it makes operational sense to do so.

We also clear snow for sidewalks, trails and transit stops:

 Trigger
Sidewalks Within 3 days of a snow event.
Trails 5 cm snow pack in select Waskasoo Park trails
Transit stops Within 10 days of a snow event.

Map of all snow zones and routes (pdf)

Trails Snow Clearing map (image)

In the event of exceptional snowfall events, operations adjustments may need to be made to these triggers, and routes may need to be prioritized.

Why are roads only sanded sometimes and not plowed?

Sanding provides traction control, while plowing is only required when there is an excess accumulation of snow on the road. For snowfall events that do not meet the plowing triggers, a sand and salt mixture will be applied to provide traction control. To learn more about sanding, visit: When do we plow?

When will transit routes be cleared?

Streets with transit routes are classified as Green Routes, so they will be cleared per the schedule for each Snow Zone.

Note: This does not include school bus routes.

Windrows and Parking

Why can’t you remove the snow instead of leaving windrows?

There is a significant cost to removing all the snow from streets, and we currently do not have capacity at The City’s two snow storage sites to handle snow from residential streets.

Residents can hire a private contractor to clear windrows from Grey Routes. Private contractors must have a valid Seasonal Use of Streets Permit and snow removed cannot be placed back on the street or median, or on other City property (e.g., parks). It must either be placed on appropriate private property taken to one of The City’s snow storage facilities (standard fees will apply).

Where am I going to park if there are windrows on both sides of the street?

The City’s Land Use Bylaw requires that all single dwellings and duplexes must have a minimum of two off-street parking spots. These parking spots can either be in the front or rear of the lot.

Windrows will be on both sides of the street again this year. There will be breaks in the windrows for back lanes, and back lanes will be plowed in conjunction with residential plowing.

If you wish to park on the street, you can clear the windrow or hire a private contractor to do it. Private contractors must have a valid Seasonal Use of Streets Permit to clear windrows from driveways and streets. Snow removed from driveways or streets can’t be placed back on the street or median, or on other City property (e.g., parks). It must either be placed on appropriate private property or taken to one of The City’s snow storage facilities (standard fees will apply).

Will there be breaks in the windrows?

We will be creating breaks in the windrows for back lane access, fire hydrants and where residents have an on street City-approved handicapped sign.  

Where can I park if I live on a Close or a Cul-de-Sac?

In accordance to The City’s Traffic Bylaw, motor vehicles are required to be parked parallel to the curb, including in Closes and Cul-de-Sacs. By parallel parking, there is adequate space to provide one row of parking, a driving lane and a snow storage pile in the centre.

How do I contest a parking ticket?

If you feel that your parking ticket was issued in error and you are not guilty of the offence, a request for a review can be made. Visit Appeal Your Ticket to learn more.

Seasonal Use of Streets Permits

What is a Seasonal Use of Street Permit?

A Seasonal Use of Street Permit allows private contractors to clear windrows from driveways and streets. Snow removed from driveways or streets can’t be placed back on the street or median, or on other City property (e.g., parks). It must either be placed on appropriate private property or taken to one of The City’s snow storage facilities (standard fees will apply). Contractors will need to register with Public Works before using a snow storage site. Please contact Public Works at 403-342-8238 for more information.

How do I get a Use of Streets Permit?

You can apply for a Seasonal Use of Streets Permit by filling out the application form. Please read the form carefully to ensure you meet all of the requirements. Visit the Snow clearing contractors page for more details.

How much does the permit cost?

If you have a valid City of Red Deer business license, there is no fee to apply; otherwise a $50 fee applies.

Are there any restrictions on how often or when private contractors can plow?

Yes, contractors can only plow after City crews have left the Snow Zone.

Snow Zone Alerts/Notify Red Deer

What is a Snow Zone alert?

A Snow Zone alert is a text, email or phone notification to tell you when you need to move your vehicle for plowing on your Route in your Snow Zone. When you sign up for Notify Red Deer, you will automatically be signed up to receive Snow Zone alerts for your Snow Zone. You’ll receive notification for Green and Grey Routes, so you’ll need to know which Route you will on; you can find out here: Know Your Snow Zone.

Snow Zone alerts are generally sent 24-36 hours in advance of the start of plowing in a Snow Zone. Most Snow Zones typically take two to three days to plow, so your street may not be plowed on the first day your Snow Zone is scheduled to start. Your vehicle needs to be off the street every day plowing is scheduled until the street is plowed. The schedule is based on current conditions and is subject to change. We will send a new alert if the schedule changes. 

Can I sign up for Snow Zone alerts for more than one address?

Yes, when you sign up for Notify Red Deer, you can enter more than one address (e.g., your parents’ house, your work, your child’s school/daycare). You will then receive Snow Zone alerts for all addresses entered in Notify Red Deer.

I was previously signed up for Snow Zone email alerts. Is this the same thing?

No, this is a different system than The City’s email subscription service. If you had previously signed up for this service, you will need to sign up for Notify Red Deer. Notify Red Deer will be replacing The City's email subscription services for Snow and Ice. 

Snow and Ice Clearing on Sidewalks

Which sidewalks does The City of Red Deer clear?

The City clears over 95 km of sidewalks throughout Red Deer after each snowfall. For the winter of 2015/2016, the target for clearing sidewalks is within three days of a snow event. The 2016 Sidewalk Clearing Map (pdf) shows which sidewalk The City clears. The red and yellow lines indicates sidewalks cleared by The City. In addition, generally, the following applies:

  • Sidewalks on hills, bridges, arterials and downtown streets: The City will clear both sides of the street for any sidewalk adjacent to City property measuring more than 10 meters.
  • Sidewalks on collector streets: The City will clear both sides of the street for any sidewalk adjacent to City property measuring over 10 meters.
  • Sidewalks on residential streets and industrial areas: The City is responsible for providing connectivity on residential streets, meaning there’s a sidewalk cleared on one side of the street. To achieve this, The City will clear one side of street for any sidewalk adjacent to City property measuring more than 10 meters. However, if there is private property on the other side of the street, the City will not clear the sidewalk on either side of the street. In this case the property owner is responsible for clearing the sidewalk.
  • Schools are required to clear sidewalks adjacent to school owned property.
Does The City of Red Deer have a bylaw requiring sidewalk snow removal?

Yes, the bylaw was passed in 1999. It requires residents to clear all city sidewalks adjoining their property within 48 hours of when the snow or ice was deposited. Failure to clear the sidewalk could result in a fine and a City crew being dispatched to clear the sidewalk at the resident's expense. For more details, please refer to Section 82 of the Traffic Bylaw.

Who is impacted by mandatory sidewalk snow removal?

Section 82 of the Traffic Bylaw, which mandates 48-hour sidewalk snow removal, includes all land zoned Commercial, Residential and Direct Control as well as land used for schools.

Do I have to clear the sidewalk leading up to my house?

The bylaw does not require residents to clear snow and ice from the sidewalk leading to their house. But both Canada Post and the Red Deer Advocate have stated service delivery could be interrupted if sidewalks are not cleared.

Who is responsible for sidewalk snow removal on rental property?

Although a landlord may pass the task of snow removal on to a tenant, the landowner is ultimately responsible for keeping the sidewalk clear.

How is the Bylaw enforced?

The Red Deer RCMP complaint line receives snow removal complaints and a City Bylaw officer will respond. In areas such as downtown, Bylaw Officers may actively look for infractions.

Have a complaint?

If you would like to report a bylaw infraction, please call 403-343-5575.

How are sidewalk snow removal complaints handled?

A probable scenario:

The RCMP receives a complaint from a citizen, Canada Post Representative, utility meter reader or newspaper/flyer carrier. A City Bylaw Officer confirms that 48 hours have passed since the last snowfall. The sidewalk is inspected. If the sidewalk is in violation of the bylaw, the following actions will be taken: First offence within a winter: A warning notice is issued to the occupant/owner. If the sidewalk is not shovelled within 24 hours of the warning notice, a ticket will be issued to the occupant/owner. If the sidewalk is not cleared within 48 hours of the ticket being issued, City crews will be sent to remove the snow at the owner's expense. Second and subsequent offences within a winter: A ticket is issued to the occupant/owner. If the sidewalk is not cleared within 48 hours of the ticket being issued, City crews will be sent to remove the snow at the owner's expense.

What penalties do I face if I do not clear my sidewalk?

Snow removal fines are $35, plus the cost of The City clearing snow which for an average-sized residential sidewalk could exceed $100.

Where do I put the snow?

According to the Traffic Bylaw:

  • Snow, ice and other debris from driveways can’t be placed on the road, but snow from immediately adjacent sidewalks can be placed on the road.
  • Any person who places snow and ice from their driveway onto the street has 24 hours to remove it from the road, or The City could remove the snow and recover the costs from the person responsible

When possible, shovel snow and ice onto an adjacent boulevard or yard, or onto your property.

What about people who can not shovel their own walk?

Seniors or disabled citizens, who may have difficulty clearing their sidewalk are encouraged to make arrangements with a neighbour, a friend or family member.

What if I am out of town for more than 48 hours?

If you will be away from your home for more than 48 hours, arrange for a neighbour, friend, family member or contractor to care for your home and sidewalk in your absence.