Where Snow Goes to Melt




Where Snow Goes to Melt

A snow management site on New Toronto Street. Photo by Stephen Michalowicz/Torontoist.

Since December, Toronto’s Transportation Services have been clearing hazardous snow piles and moving dump trucks of snow to pre-designated locations. The result: Toronto now has a few mountains.
In the last few months, the city has moved an estimated twenty to thirty thousand truckloads of snow—or about a fourth of the volume of the Rogers Centre—to numerous locations. While there are dozens of sites, the largest are on New Toronto Street in the west, Transit Road in the north, Unwin Avenue in the south, Morningside Avenue in the east, and Black Creek Drive in the northwest. “The amount of snow has been a challenge… It takes a concerted effort to manage the necessary resources,” explained Peter Noehammer, Toronto’s director of Transportation Services. The goal, Noehammer said, is to “keep key transit corridors open and identify areas where piles of snow are dangerous.” Those areas include streetcar routes, bike paths, one-way streets, and other areas where snow accumulation is treacherous or could block emergency vehicles. “[We also] remove as much snow as possible from the areas that have heavy parking demands,” said Noehammer. Since this unwanted snow can’t be pushed to the side of the street, it ends up being transported to snow management sites.
We were amazed by the scale of the operation at the site we visited on New Toronto Street. In less than five minutes, ten dump trucks delivered more than a hundred tons of snow as two backhoes and a bulldozer worked their way through the dirty mountain. We wondered if the site would ever be clean again, but according to Noehammer, the city routinely combs the mounds for unwanted materials. Then after the snow melts, the sites are grated and leftover debris, including dirt, salt, and garbage, are removed, and the sites are prepared for summer use.