The Region of Waterloo averages six nights per year when the temperature drops below minus 20. While we have experienced the minus 30s, weather that cold is extremely rare here[i].
“Most days of snowfall in Kitchener – Waterloo leave less than five centimetres (2 inches) of fresh snow on the ground. For ten days a year on average, the amount of new snow totals at least five cm.
Big snowstorms of over ten cm a day normally occur two or three times a year. But major blizzards that dump 25 cm or more in one day are not at all expected here.”[ii]
We urge students to leave a little earlier, to exercise caution, and to wear appropriate gear including lugged-sole footwear while walking to school on snowy or icy days. This will also ensure students are ready to fully enjoy outdoor break time!
Most of our municipalities allow residents at least 24 hours after a snowfall to clear sidewalks in front of homes, and likewise, our municipal maintenance teams need time to service all their roadways, sidewalks, and trails, so there will be times when students must walk on potentially slippery or snowy routes.
Students have been walking to school in these conditions for decades and while it may take a little more effort, the effort is worth the additional benefits! Walking outside in cold air can reduce stress, increase serotonin (the happiness hormone), and even though the action may be slower, walking in snow leads to greater heart conditioning and increased endurance over time.
It Takes a Village
Notifying your School Board or Municipality
If you notice sidewalks or trails that are consistently not cleared 24 hours after the end of snow events, please notify the appropriate authority that your child and other students would benefit from the clearance of snow.
Call your school principal concerning issues on school property.
Telephone numbers for Waterloo Region District School Board schools can be found here: https://www.wrdsb.ca/our-schools/schools/.
Telephone numbers for the Waterloo Catholic District School Board schools can be found here: https://www.wcdsb.ca/our-schools/.
Call your municipality for issues on sidewalks in front of private property and sidewalks or paths on their own winter maintenance list. Please call the numbers below for those services.
City of Cambridge
To report an issue with sidewalk clearing, call our Community Services department at (519) 740-4681 during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).
City of Kitchener
Residents of city are permitted 24 hours after a snow event to clear sidewalks in order to make them passable for pedestrians. Likewise, the City requires up to 24 hours after the snow has stopped in order to complete all snow clearance of city-maintained routes like pathways leading to our schools. Other factors, such as temperature, future forecasts and precipitation, determine how and when plowing, salting or sanding take place.
If you have concerns about winter maintenance on City of Kitchener-owned property and sidewalks to be cleared by homeowners, please call 519-741-2345.
City of Waterloo
To report privately owned unshovelled sidewalks, contact municipal enforcement at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-747-6280.
To report an uncleared municipal sidewalk or trail, please contact the City’s service centre at 519-886-2310 (7:00am-4:30 p.m., Mon-Fri) or notify them on Twitter @citywaterloo.
A map showing city/privately cleared sidewalks can be viewed using this interactive City of Waterloo map.
Township of North Dumfries
The Township of North Dumfries provides winter maintenance on all Municipal sidewalks in Ayr within 10 hours of a snow event.
Please contact the Public Works Department by calling 519-621-7885 with any questions or concerns.
Township of Wellesley
Sidewalks shall be cleared of snow and ice within 24 hours of a snowfall.
Contact the Township of Wellesley with concerns at 519-699-4611.
Township of Wilmot
The Township clears sidewalks in front of municipal property, walkways and along back-lotted properties. Remember all property owners are required to remove snow and ice from sidewalks adjacent to their property within 24 hours of a winter storm.
Concerns may be directed to reception at 519-634-8444 toll-free 1-800-469-5576.
Township of Woolwich
The Township contracts the removal of snow on sidewalks in Elmira according to priority routes and then adds this service to the benefitting property owner’s tax bill. In Elmira, the contractor has 24 hours after the end of the snowfall to clear the sidewalks.
For all Settlements, except Elmira, property owners are required to clear snow from the sidewalks in front of or beside their homes or businesses within 24 hours after the end of a snow fall that results in an accumulation of 38 mm or more.
Call 519-669-1647 ext. 6041 or toll free 1-877-969-0094 with concerns.