How Calgary is preparing for snowy and icy winter roads this year

Click to play video: 'City of Calgary to outline 2020-21 snow and ice strategy'
City of Calgary to outline 2020-21 snow and ice strategy
The City of Calgary will outline how it plans to tackle snow-covered roads this winter at a Tuesday news conference. Bindu Suri has details. – Oct 6, 2020

Though the first day of fall was less than a month ago, Calgary’s road maintenance team is ready for the winter. And they’re ready to try something new.

“We were always looking at, you know, the equipment that we use, the material that we use to try to find any efficiencies, safety increases or cost savings,” Chris Hewitt, City of Calgary roads maintenance manager, said Tuesday.

The trial will be on a few select roads within the city. Crews will continue to use the previous salt and pickle — the salt-sand mixture spread to help create traction on icy patches — on most city roads through the upcoming winter.

New to his role, Hewitt was confident the coronavirus pandemic wouldn’t impact snow clearing this year.

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Read more: Calgary snow record versus summer-like sun: on this September day one year later

“We’ve had to create some contingency plans to deal with COVID-19,” Hewitt said. “But we’ve been very fortunate — we’ve been largely unaffected, operationally, by COVID-19.

“We’ve continued with our plans from when it started through spring and summer. And we don’t anticipate any big problems with the winter.”

Read more: Calgary crews work to clear snow-covered roads amid snowfall warning

Hewitt also didn’t expect to go over the $40-million snow clearing budget.

“Through January, February, March and April of 2020, we spent about $25 million — about 60 percent of that,” he said. “So we’re sitting on 40 percent or so — $15 million — to see us through the year, and we don’t anticipate any problems coming in at or under budget.”

Read more: The future of snow clearing? Robotic snow-removal machines on display in Calgary

The city currently follows a seven-day snow clearing plan, which is enacted once the snow stops falling.

Priority 1 roads are the first to be cleared, which includes major roads with more than 20,000 vehicles per day, like Crowchild Trail and Macleod Trail. (Deerfoot Trail and Stoney Trail are maintained by the provincial government.)

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Crews then focus on Priority 2 routes — roads that carry 5,000 to 19,999 vehicles a day — like Kensington Road and Acadia Drive.

After that, crews turn to clearing Priority 3 and Priority 4 routes, which include residential areas and school and playground zones.

In 2019, The City of Calgary had a snow-removal budget of just under $40 million between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31.

Learn more about snow-route parking bans

The City of Calgary can put a snow-route parking ban in place to help crews clear streets.The parking bans are declared on the city’s snow routes when Calgary has seen a significant accumulation of snow.
A snow route parking ban will go into effect on Saturday at 10 a.m.
A snow route parking ban will go into effect on Saturday at 10 a.m. Tim Lee / Global News

Snow routes are indicated by blue signs with a white snowflake symbol. Any vehicles left on snow routes during the ban can be ticketed or towed.

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Once called, snow-route parking bans can be in place for up to 72 hours. On-street accessible parking is exempt from snow-route parking bans.

To find more information regarding snow-route parking bans, visit

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