Winter Maintenance Quality Standards Review Underway

Winter Maintenance Quality Standards Review Underway

The City Wants to Hear from You!

223.5 cm (or just over 7 feet for those who still use imperial measurements)!

That’s the normal snowfall for the season in Ottawa. When that 223.5 cm starts to fall and accumulate, the City’s winter maintenance quality standards (WMQS) dictate when staff and equipment are mobilized to begin clearing the streets and sidewalks to keep drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists safe.

The City’s current WMQS were adopted in 2003 and a great deal has changed since then. City policies and plans have evolved, and we have many new and improved transportation options, from the LRT to cycle tracks and more sidewalks on local streets. The result is a shift away from single drivers in vehicles to increased use of public and active transportation (walking, biking, rollerblading, etc.).

The WMQS Project Team is also reviewing how the City can progressively plan the winter maintenance quality standards to accommodate for climate change; according to a recent study commissioned by the City and the National Capital Commission, winters could be four weeks shorter by the 2030s with far more freeze-thaw cycles between December and February, and fewer “deep freeze” events. This would have an impact on ice build-up, particularly on residential roadways, sidewalks, and bike lanes.  Accessibility, diversity, sustainability, safety, and healthy living will also be reviewed as these weren’t considered when the current standards were drafted.

Between now and early 2021, the WMQS Project Team will be reviewing and developing new options for winter maintenance and they want to hear from you.

For more information on the WMQS Review Project and ways to get involved please visit