Street Sweeping in Ottawa

Street Sweeping in Ottawa

It is the time of year when our Roads and Parking Services team is focused on cleaning our communities and making them as safe as possible for those summer commutes, cycling trips and leisurely walks. Our street sweeping operations are an important part of this clean-up work.

Street Sweeping

Street sweeping takes place each spring to remove debris and material from all paved roads and hard surfaces. The debris may have accumulated during the winter and is more noticeable as snow melts. Debris left on the road could pose dangers to traffic, pedestrians and cyclists and clog catch basins.

The City uses both internal resources and contractors to complete street sweeping operations. We do this because it is more efficient – allowing us to clean our communities in a timely manner so residents can enjoy being outdoors as soon as possible. Our City owns a small number of street sweeper trucks, however we rely on our contractors for additional support during to address these seasonal pressures.


Street sweeping operations begin in early spring when most of the snow has melted from the edge of the roadways. We cannot sweep in the evenings when temperatures drop below zero as the water we use on the road can form into ice, creating dangerous conditions. If there is a winter weather event, operations will be stopped as our teams respond to the conditions – to clear and treat the roads.

In some parts of our City, street sweeping operations have already begun – an early start this year due to the exceptionally warm weather we experienced last week. Suburban street sweeping begins as early as the weather will allow in the spring. Our Maintenance Quality Standards (MQS) require us to complete our street sweeping operations by May 31. Street sweeping operations in these communities will happen around the clock – though we do try to focus our overnight sweeping efforts on our arterial roadways and less in the residential areas.

In our urban core, where paid parking is in place, we complete what is known as concentrated street sweeping. In these areas, residents are required to move their cars to allow street sweeping operations to be completed. This work will begin on April 6 (weather dependent) and continue until approximately April 14. Signage will be posted to alert residents to our concentrated street sweeping operations.

How is street sweeping completed?

Street sweeping is done in phases.

  • Sidewalks, bus stop pads and medians are cleaned first by a variety of methods using sidewalk sweepers, flusher trucks and hand brooms.
  • A sidewalk sweeper will work in the area first, pushing grit, debris and dust onto the road way. A vacuum sweeper or mechanical sweeper truck then picks up the majority of grit, debris, small particles and dust removing it from the road.
  • This operation might be repeated several times to ensure a clean surface. If vehicles are parked on the street, the unswept area is noted and crews will return to sweep that portion at a later date.
  • In our suburban communities, we will be working around the clock to complete our street sweeping operations. Residents can expect to see our vehicles out working through the night.

Street Sweeping in Concentrated Areas

Concentrated sweeping is conducted in core neighbourhoods including the downtown core, Vanier, New Edinburgh, Sandy Hill and the Glebe.  These neighbourhoods receive concentrated street sweeping as a result of continuous on-street parking, which prevents effective sweeping.

  • On-street parking restrictions are in effect in these neighbourhoods when marked. All Street Sweeping operations are weather dependent.
  • Temporary “No Parking” signs are posted prominently. The parking restrictions apply to all vehicles, including those with on-street parking permits. 
  • Vehicles parked where temporary “no-parking” signs are posted will towed to nearby streets. Towed vehicles are usually moved just a few blocks over.
    • Residents who are unable to locate their vehicle may call the Ottawa Police Service at 613-236-1222 (TTY: 613-232-1123).

In areas where concentrated street sweeping takes place, our team will provide maps of the impacted areas, as well as a general timeline for work to be completed to the local Councillors. Timelines are subject to change due to inclement weather conditions.

Resident support is required!

We recognize that street sweeping operations can be noisy for the short period they take place. Sadly, there is no quieter alternative way to clean as effectively. We appreciate residents support for our efforts as we complete our work.

Residents are also reminded to not rake or blow leaves, lawn clippings or other debris onto the roadway. It may seem like a good way to clean your property, but it is an infraction of the Use and Care of Roads By-law 2003-498.

Finally, residents are reminded to observe all posted signage and to remove their vehicles in designated areas to allow our street sweeping teams to complete their clean-up.

For more information about our street sweeping operations, please visit