Snow Plowing

Snow clearing and removal in the City of North Bay is the responsibility of the Roads Department.  Property owners and/or private contractors are not permitted to deposit snow on the roadways.

When it Snows

During a snowfall the city does its best to clear roadways to reduce motorist and pedestrian hazards.  It is important to note however, that it could take between 16 and 24 hours to finish clearing residential roadways after the snow has stopped falling.  These guidelines are set out by the Ontario Minimum Maintenance Standard.

Here are the road plowing priorities and standards during normal winter conditions:

  1. Major arterial and collector roads (Class 2)
  2. Secondary collector roads and transit routes (Class 3)
  3. Local residential, commercial areas and minor hard-surfaced rural roads (Class 4 and 5)

Plowing begins when there is an accumulation of 5 cm (2 inches) of snow on major arterial and collector roads.  City standards specify that up to 8 cm (3 inches) of snow may be allowed to accumulate on local residential, commercial areas and minor rural roads before plowing begins. 

Here are the City's plowing routes.


Here are the sidewalk plowing priorities in the City during normal winter conditions:

  1. Sidewalks adjacent to high-volume roadways with high pedestrian volumes
  2. Sidewalks in the downtown core, including around City Hall, North Bay Transit and the Discovery Museum
  3. Balance of sidewalks that can be cleared with a mechanical plow

Snow Plow Safety

  • Be patient and keep a safe distance (30m) behind working snow plows. Snow plows often travel slowly because they are removing snow, spreading salt, sand, and or applying anti-icing liquid to roadways.
  • Never pass a snow plow. Snow plows are wider than the average vehicle with large blades that extend a meter or more ahead and into the neighbouring lane. Passing a snow plow could result in a collision.
  • Don’t drive beside snow plows. You risk collision as snow plows sometimes shift sideways when they are plowing packed snow or drifts.
  • Move aside. Snow plows often drive along the centreline of a roadway to remove snow. If you are approaching a snow plow from the opposite direction, shift right if conditions allow to ensure there is enough space for them to pass you safely.
  • Beware of reduced visibility. Even at reduced plowing speeds, a light powdery snow forms a cloud in the wake of a snow plow that severely restricts a driver’s visibility making passing extremely dangerous.
  • Do not pass between snow plows in tandem. On multi-lane roads snow plows often work in tandem, referred to as “echelon” plowing. Passing or weaving between these plows is dangerous. Please stay well back of echelon plows.
  • Watch for snow plows on sunny days. Snow plows and removal equipment must be out for several hours after a storm clearing shoulders and cutting back snow banks. Please look out for plows even on clear days.

Source: Ontario Road Builders Association


Snow Plowing FAQs

My residential street still has not been plowed. Why is it taking so long?

During a snow fall the city plows its roadways in accordance with priorities and provincial standards.  The first priority during a snowfall is to ensure all main arterial (Class 2) and collector roads (Class 3) are clear.  This means that plows may not be able to immediately clear local residential and less-travelled roads (Class 4 & 5).  Residential and less-travelled roads are generally cleared after 8 cm of snow accumulation and completed within 24 hours of the end of a snow fall.

Why does the snow plow fill in the end of my driveway?

Snow plows clear streets from the centre of the street to the curb – sometimes leaving snow across private driveways.  Unfortunately this cannot be efficiently prevented.

Why does the City leave a large pile of snow in the middle of our cul-de-sac?

To deal with heavy snowfall, cul-de-sac clearing is performed in two steps: first, the snow plow will clear the cul-de-sac to open up the roadway, then after it has stopped snowing the City will come back to clean up and/or remove the snow when snow storage has been exhausted.

Why does the snow plow come down my street twice during the same snowfall?

When snow continues to fall over a long period, snow plows may have to clear streets more than once. They do a first pass to open up the street and make it passable to traffic, and then go back to clean-up and bring the street to satisfactory condition.

Why does the City plow in the middle of the night?

Depending on how much snow falls the City may have to plow overnight.  Not only is this a more efficient time as there is little road traffic and no cars parked on the streets, but it also ensures that the roads are ready for the morning rush hour. 

Why are snow plow and sanders out on the streets when it is not snowing?

Residents may see City crews out when it's not snowing.  We pro-actively pre-treat the roads during expected weather conditions.  In other cases, plows are sent out to address areas of concern that may have hills or curves.  With safety in mind, it is in the best interest of the City and the general public to have these areas treated to prevent ice formation.

How can residents help?

Residents can assist the City in the winter by doing a few things to assist in snow clearing operations:

  • Avoid parking on city streets to allow plows to do their work.
  • When shovelling snow from your sidewalk or driveway, don't throw it on the street or onto public sidewalks. Pile snow on your property.
  • Place Blue Boxes and garbage containers on a cleared area at the end of your driveway or near the curb. Do not place containers or bags on top of snowbanks, on sidewalks or roads.
  • Be mindful of your neighbors. Do not pile snow so the city plow will push it away from your entrance and fill in your neighbor’s entrance.

Is there a number I can call if my street hasn't been plowed?

Residents who live on a local residential or rural road are asked to wait 24 hours before calling to inquire about plowing operations. Depending on the severity of the storm and the location of your residence, plows may not reach your street for 24 hours. Please be patient.

What do I do if a plow damages my property?

Occasionally mailboxes are damaged or destroyed when hit by a snow plow.  To report a damaged mailbox, please call Public Works at 705-474-4340 or report it online at   

If City equipment damages your lawn, please call Public Works at 705-474-4340 or report online at  In early spring crews will investigate and repair damaged areas by using topsoil and seed.

What is a windrow?

Windrows are the clumps of snow left at the end of your driveway after the snow plow clears your road. Our snow plow crews' first priority during a snowstorm is to clear the roads and get you moving safely around the city again. It is your responsibility to clear snow left by the plows on your driveway.

Will anything be done about the high snow banks along my street?

The City will work to cut down the snow banks along major arterial, collector and transit routes.  The City will begin to cut down snow banks when the banks cause sight line issues and snow storage becomes a concern.