Snow and ice control is a service provided by the Transportation Business Centre to ensure the safe mobility of vehicle and pedestrian traffic is maintained within the transportation network of the Town during the winter months. The snow removal program in the Town of Okotoks has been developed over several years and has been revised constantly to fit the ever changing demographics of the community.
During a typical snow event and for several days following the event, all routes in Town are monitored closely by Transportation crews normally working 24 hour shifts. Their main focus is initially directed towards the maintenance of primary and secondary routes. Generally speaking, secondary and priority routes are identified throughout the Town which carry the largest volumes of vehicles in any given day and serve as main arteries within the Town's overall road network. These routes are essential to maintain in order to allow for safe mobility of traffic and essential services throughout the Town.
Snow is plowed to the sides and away from the driving lane and into parking lanes along an identified route. Crews return to these routes typically 5-7 days after the snow has stopped to widen out roads further. This is normally done with graders which inevitably creates windrows or piles of snow along the side of the road. While Town crews do their best with special equipment attachments to minimize heights of windrows along the sides of the road, windrows can be problematic for driveways adjacent to a snow cleared route. Windrows are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner to push to the sides of the driveway.
Once the initial response to the priority and secondary routes is determined to be adequate, Transportation crews shift their focus towards residential streets. The initial response for residential roads is to ensure vehicles can enter and egress communities safely.
Throughout the winter months, residential roads are continuously monitored along with all routes throughout the Town. If rutting becomes excessive on residential roads, trucks equipped with belly mounted plows are deployed to shave the ruts down and sanding operations occur on a continuous basis.
The Town of Okotoks pathway system consists of primary and secondary pathways. Primary pathways (red) are main pedestrian corridors that collect from a series of secondary pathways (black) to facilitate pedestrian movement from residential to commercial areas. Okotoks Town Council has determined that primary pathways will receive snow clearing as part of an overall pathway strategy to improve pedestrian movement year round.
Snow clearing on sidewalks is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner. Where sidewalks border parks, the Town provides the snow removal. Where sidewalks border businesses and residences, the private property owner is responsible. Sidewalks not cleaned may be subject to a fine.
The excerpt from Traffic Bylaw 10-10, Schedule A is as follows: “All persons within the Town of Okotoks shall remove and clean away, as soon as possible, and in any case within 24 hours, all snow, ice, dirt or debris and other obstructions from the sidewalk adjoining the premises owned or occupied by them.” Pushing snow onto public roads is also not permissible under the Traffic Bylaw.
For information contact Municipal Enforcement at 403-938-8913 or call us.
Snow Stockpiled Against Homes
Avoid any seepage issues with your home. It is good practice for homeowners during the winter and spring months to check all sides of their homes and remove any stockpiled snow against foundations - especially snow stockpiled near basement window wells. North and east sides of homes will be the worst (little winter sun exposure).
To assist with icy sidewalks during the winter months, the Town of Okotoks is offering free sand to its residents. Residents can pick up sand at the Eco Centre. Sand is also available at both fire halls located at 132 Milligan Drive, and 98 Woodhaven Drive.
The sand will be available for as long as it's required during the winter months; residents are asked to bring their own bucket.
In extreme snow events, additional resources may be engaged to assist with snow clearing efforts. Graders are normally deployed to assist to widen out driving lanes further. Occasionally and only in extraordinary circumstances, snow is removed from identified streets. This is normally only done when roads become impassable, rutting becomes extreme, or drainage is significantly affected.
Please click here for current Snow Removal notices.
Snow Removal Operations in Okotoks
There has been a general consensus of most citizens that given the nature of a normal winter and the number of “Chinooks” we experience, hauling snow away unless absolutely necessary is an inefficient use of tax dollars and resources. When hauling snow is deemed necessary, it is hauled to our temporary snow storage facility. The current location of the Town’s temporary snow storage facility is located with the Town of Okotoks business park. Snow which is removed by the Town of Okotoks is hauled to and stockpiled in this area. The location is strategically located as it provides for easy access to main access routes which ultimately leads to reduced hauling times when snow is being hauled to the site from all locations within the Town.
Our snow storage facility has been designed and constructed based on the following guidelines:
Grading and Site Base
The snow storage facility has been pre-graded to ensure positive drainage occurs in the direction towards containment structures and catch basin locations. It has also been graded so that runoff from outlying areas does not enter the site.
Containment structures such as earthen berms and compacted subgrades have been constructed on the site to contain melt water before it is allowed to enter the storm drainage system. These on site earth berms or sumps minimize and allow contaminants to settle before melt water leaves the site.
Once melt water has passed through onsite containment features, it then enters the storm drainage system through catch basins or storm grates which are located immediately adjacent the site. Melt water then travels through underground pipes that discharge into a nearby storm water treatment facility (storm pond). The storm pond provides further treatment of melt water before the water enters the Sheep River. Catch basins and storm grates adjacent the snow storage facility are monitored continuously to ensure they remain clear and unobstructed during melting periods.
Stockpiled snow is shaped with dozers to maximize sun light exposure which facilitates melting. This is accomplished by ensuring longer gradual slopes on the stockpile are south facing to maximize afternoon sun exposure which will ensure a relatively rapid melt. Melting waste snow is somewhat unsightly in appearance and therefore the faster it melts the less of an eyesore it will be. A faster melt period will also permit the ground to dry much quicker.
The snow storage facility is continuously monitored for safety reasons. The facility is not accessible to the public or private contractors due to on-going repair work we are engaged with as well as storage limitations. Side slopes of stockpiled snow are watched closely by our Transportation crews and runoff is monitored regularly to ensure no adverse impacts occur to adjacent properties around the site when melting is occurring.
Feb 15, 2017 - The record high temperature from yesterday caused an extremely rapid melt of the heavy snowfall of last week. The freeze and thaw temperatures that we typically experience during a warm spell or Chinook can cause the Town’s catch basins to freeze. Currently, our Transportation crews are steaming and opening up the frozen catch basins in a prioritized manner. They have a list started this morning from those that have called in with street drainage issues and they have been out monitoring the areas. Please contact Transportation if you notice flooding on a road at 403-938-4372.
Photo courtesy of City of Calgary
During warm spells or Chinooks in the winter, our Transportation workers also are engaged with steaming and opening up frozen catch basins in a prioritized manner.
While they appear fun in a child’s mind, snow piles on the edge of roadways are unsafe. Please keep children from playing on or in snow piles that have accumulated around Town. Snow piles are unstable and there is a danger of them collapsing. There are also concerns of children sliding down onto the road and into traffic.
Winter fun is available. Visit our outdoor skating rinks and tobogganing hills page to learn about these facilities located on public lands throughout town. These amenities are free for public use and a great way to keep your family safe while staying active during winter. The tobogganing hills are inspected for hazards but are not groomed. Helmet use while sledding and skating is strongly recommended.
Snow is plowed to the sides and away from the driving and parking lanes along an identified route. This process inevitably creates windrows or piles of snow along the side of the road. While Town crews do their best with special equipment attachments to minimize heights of windrows along the sides of the road, windrows can be problematic for driveways adjacent to a snow cleared route. Windrows are the responsibility of the adjacent property owner to push to the sides of the driveway.
On residential roads, you may see Town equipment “flat-blading”, flattening the snow to a hard pack, so it is easier to drive on. Sometimes, this results in windrows, which many Okotokians have questions about.
What is a windrow?
Crews must maintain the driving lane on primary and secondary routes to a safe, reasonable winter driving condition. Crews do this by “flat-blading,” so it is easier to drive on. Flat-blading causes a build-up of snow along the side of a roadway, also known a windrow. While this is good for motorists, the snow left over after crews have flat-bladed can create some extra work for property owners.
There is a windrow in front of my driveway. Who is responsible for clearing it?
The clearing of windrows in front of driveways left by snow plowing equipment is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner, much like sidewalk shovelling. Plow operators make every attempt to keep driveways clear or keep windrows as small as possible, but any spillage that does occur is the responsibility of the property owner.
What does the Town do about windrows?
Town crews do their best to keep windrows small by evenly distributing the snow on either side of the road, however, after heavy snowfalls, windrows can build up. Under extreme circumstances, if a windrow is impeding a resident’s ability to enter their driveway, a crew can come by and assess the windrow and remove if required. If you feel a windrow has been established that has impeded your safe vehicle operation, please contact Transportation at 403-938-4372.