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The City of Sarnia clears City roads of snow, clears some sidewalks on primary routes, and undertakes anti-icing to ensure transit, emergency services, and travel can be provided during winter-weather events.

To facilitate snow removal overnight parking is not permitted on City streets from Dec. 1 to March 31 between 2 and 5:30 a.m.

Snow removal

The City responds to winter weather events at the onset of snowfall, focussing on keeping primary roads, including transit routes, clear. We work to keep these roads clear until snow and ice are removed in line with Provincial standards. In instances of declared significant weather events due to heavy snow or multiple storms, timelines for removal may be extended. Primary roads are prioritized for snow removal before secondary roads like residential side streets.

Primary roads

Primary roads with higher traffic volumes are plowed first. These roads are plowed to facilitate emergency response, delivery of transit, and school access.

Secondary roads

Secondary roads like residential side streets are plowed after primary roads have been completed. Secondary roads are prioritized on a rotating basis, so roads plowed last will be plowed ahead of other secondary roads during the next snow event.

Snow removal from driveways and private property

There are ways you can avoid the City plow from piling a large volume of snow at the end of your driveway after you have shovelled.

Snowplows are designed to remove snow from the road and deposit it on the boulevard. When you shovel your driveway try to pile snow on your property. Try to place the snow “downstream” (on the right side when facing the road) so your driveway won’t be filled in the next time the plow comes by.

Snow and ice can’t be pushed out onto the road. Snow that has been removed cannot be placed into the road, onto the sidewalk or onto a right-of way or in a location that restricts access to a fire hydrant as this has the potential to become a safety hazard. You can report these issues by contacting the City. For additional details on snow and ice deposit and removal refer to the Streets By-Law, Section 7. Property owners will be held responsible for snow placed illegally by their plow contractor.

The City does not enforce snow clearing removal on private property such as private parking lots and walkways at apartment buildings or commercial properties. The Ontario’s Residential Tenancies Act contains details of responsibility of snow and ice removal for apartment buildings and other rental properties.

The City partners with Lambton Elderly Outreach to provide an Adopt-A-Driveway Program to assist older adults and people with disabilities in removing snow from their properties.

Sidewalk snow removal

To ensure major walking routes to access transit and other services remain accessible, and to offset costs related to snow removal from sidewalks on all City streets, the City clears snow and ice from sidewalks on designated primary roads/routes. Sidewalks not on these routes are not maintained from Nov. 1 to April 30.

Sidewalk snow and ice removal takes place after eight or more centimetres of snow is accumulated and is generally complete within 48 hours.

Sidewalk snow removal in commercial areas

Property owners within designated commercial areas are required to remove snow and ice from their sidewalks within the first four hours of daylight, or within four hours after the conclusion of the snowfall event.

Significant weather events

During significant weather events timelines for snow removal may be extended. A significant weather event is an approaching or occurring weather hazard with the potential to pose a significant danger to users of the highways within a municipality.

When the City declares a special weather event a notice will be shared via the City website homepage, and via social media channels.

As per the Ontario Municipal Act, the City of Sarnia may declare a Significant Weather Event when the weather forecast or actual weather includes one or more special conditions, including:

  • Environment Canada has issued an alert under its Public Weather Alerting Program;
  • Significant snow accumulation during a 24-hour period;
  • Ice formation that occurs with no warning from the weather forecast;
  • High winds leading to large snow drifts;
  • Cold temperature when de-icing operations will not be effective.

A declaration of a Significant Weather Event is not a notice of roads closures. The declaration is to notify the public that due to current or forecasted conditions, caution is to be observed when travelling on the municipality’s roads and sidewalks, and that it may take longer than usual to bring the condition of the roads and sidewalks back to optimal conditions.


To improve road safety by preventing the formation of ice, the City applies a magnesium chloride brine to roads before expected freezing temperatures. The liquid mixture works immediately as a barrier so that the precipitation and/or dew doesn’t stick and freeze to the road and slippery conditions are avoided. If there is no precipitation, the brine can stay active on the road for several days.

The brine used by the City continues to function at lower temperatures than traditional salt brines and is more environmentally friendly.

We apply brine on roads, bridges, higher curves and bends in the road. Bridges are prioritized as these surfaces freeze before others.

Anti-icing normally takes place between October and April with most of the liquid applied in the months of November and December. It works best at moderate temperatures. Once temperatures become very cold, use of brine is not as effective.