Nov 26, 2019

Snow Doubt About It, We Need Clear Roads

Well, the first good day of snowfall is here. And with that, the city is in full snow removal mode. The City maintains over 11,000 km of road. Laid out end to end, that distance would stretch all the way to Newfoundland and back. This year, the City has a new snow and ice plan so I want to share with you the City’s process.

Before Snowfall: 

Anti-icer brine is a tool the City uses pre-storm to prevent snow and ice bonding with pavement. These can include rock salt or ice melt, similar to what residents may put on their driveway or sidewalks. They can also include liquid brines, like calcium chloride but recently we banned the use of calcium chloride as an anti-icer.

Good to Know: Please note that the province uses calcium chloride on major provincial highways like the Anthony Henday. You may be seeing calcium chloride residue on our collector roads because it has been carried and dropped by cars travelling on these major highways.


The City uses plow trucks and graders to clear snow from the roads, sidewalk plows to clear snow from sidewalks and multi-use trails, and brooming and blowing to clear snow off sidewalks and stairs. 

Trucks are used to apply sand/salt mix as needed to maintain traction and de-icing agents to melt snow and ice.

Fun fact: Mechanical means such as plowing are always the first line of defense during winter weather events. 

Priority Clearing:

City Administration designed a 4-tier priority clearing system to keep Edmontonians safe and traffic flowing smoothly. It makes sense to service the most travelled roads first.

  • Priority 1 is  freeways (high speed, high volume), arterial roads and business districts cleared within 36 hours of the end of snowfall.
  • Priority 2 then shifts the focus to collector roads and bus routes, as well as transit Park and Ride access roads, and these are cleared within 48 hours of the end of snowfall.
  • Priority 3 is local industrial roadways cleared within 5 days.
  • Priority 4 (if the snow accumulation warrants) CoE will blade residential streets and alleys to approximately a 5 cm snowpack.

Another Fun Fact: Protected bike lanes are also treated as arterials because of the impact on cyclists’ mobility, but we use different equipment for bike lanes. 

To help streamline the process residential blading operates on a weekly schedule throughout the winter. A regular schedule means citizens will have a better idea of when to move their vehicles off the street so that crews can do the best job possible, and vehicles won’t be stuck behind windrows. Blading crews can be on neighbourhood streets at anytime during the designated 24 hours. 

To find your neighbourhood’s designated snow day visit, or call 311. 

After Snowfall: 

De-icer brine is applied following a snow or ice event to break the subsequent bond between the snow and ice and pavement. Both anti-incer and de-icer allow for easier mechanical or manual snow removal. 

Some folks are also interested in alternatives like beet juice and molasses. Calgary uses beet juice and Edmonton does not. 

Instead, Edmonton use a molasses based corrosion inhibitor like other municipalities such as Winnipeg. It serves the same purpose as the beet juice in Calgary. Beet juice is not an anti-icer or de-icer brine, so it does not replace the use of calcium chloride. It acts as an organic corrosion inhibitor.  Edmonton’s molasses organic corrosion inhibitor is not applied as a stand-alone product, it is blended with brine as a corrosion inhibitor–the same way Calgary does with beet juice.

If you notice gaps in the system, or locations you feel have been missed by the snow removal teams, please call 311 or use the 311 app to register your concerns. 311 is one of the best tools City of Edmonton has to track problem areas, and identify patterns across the city. The information collected this year through 311 will help us determine what changes or improvements can be made to the Snow and Ice Control program in the future!

As always, if you have additional questions or concerns about snow and ice care in your neighbourhood, you can connect with me via phone or email at 780-496-8138 or