Mayor John Tory is calling for a review of the city’s winter operations after last week’s winter storm left Toronto residents digging out of piles of snow — with many saying the city didn’t do enough to help.
In a letter sent on Tuesday to the head of the city’s transportation services department, and obtained by CBC Toronto, Tory said his office alone had “more than 150 calls and emails” from residents who were dissatisfied with the city’s snow removal service.
“Many of the complaints focused on sidewalk and windrow clearing,” he wrote.
Councillors, he added, “similarly received a higher than normal volume of complaints.”
Tory is requesting a review that includes a study of the city’s service levels around snow removal and whether they should be increased, alongside a look at the best practices and technology used in other Canadian cities.
He also wants the city to explore establishing a “zero tolerance” system for vehicles blocking streetcar routes and the threshold for triggering parking restrictions along key routes so they can be cleared faster.
“I want to make sure we are providing the absolute best winter operations we can, recognizing that last week’s storm was one of the worst in a decade,” Tory wrote.
Request follows 5,000 complaints to 311
His request follows days of concern from residents over snow-covered sidewalks, unplowed streets, and potential flooding.
Mark Mills, Toronto’s superintendent road operations, previously told CBC Toronto the city has answered 5,000 complaints to 311 since the storm on Jan. 29.
He also said city crews were out all weekend uncovering around 1,100 catch basins and removing snow from about 233 km of roadway.
But those efforts didn’t reach all corners of the city; in North York, residents near a seniors’ facility on O’Connor Drive told CBC Toronto a stretch of sidewalk leading to the nearby shopping area had not been cleared since the storm, despite multiple calls to city officials.
In his letter, Tory also said he wants a closer look at the potential benefits of “harmonizing the city’s sidewalk clearing.”
Currently, the city clears sidewalks in certain areas like Scarborough, but not others — including Toronto, East York, York, and parts of the Etobicoke and North York districts, where the responsibility falls on residents.