Winter in Niagara Falls

Winter in Niagara Falls Snowplow Truck 

Winter operations updates

Stay up-to-date with snow clearing operations by monitoring the Public Notices page during winter storms. You can subscribe to text/email updates by visiting the Website Notices Subscribe Page and subscribing to snow-clearing alerts. 

Weather updates and closures

View the current weather in Niagara Falls, including any warnings.

Current Notifications

Monitor the City of Niagara Falls’ official Twitter page for up-to-the-minute alerts.

Municipal Closures

Service alerts and closures of municipal facilities, including City Hall, MacBain Community Centre, Niagara Falls History Museum and The Exchange are updated in real time on the home page of niagarafalls.ca.

School Closures

Check with your local school board for information on cancelled classes and buses at:

Regional Closures

Service closures and disruptions across the Niagara Region are updated on the Niagara Region Service Disruption page.

Other Closures 

Listen to Newstalk 610 CKTB or check their Storm Desk page for other local closures.

How and when snow is cleared from roadways

As a snow event draws near, City of Niagara Falls staff maintains arterial and collector roads, hills, and mist-affected areas near the Falls to prevent ice.

Plowing of arterial and collector roads begins as snow accumulates. When the depth of snow has reached 8 centimetres, plowing operations commence on all municipal roadways, including residential streets and cul-de-sacs.

Residents are encouraged to use the City's online Level of Service Locator tool to look up any valid street address and determine the classification levels of the street that their residence or business is located on.

The City maintains 592 kilometres of roads and 218 kilometres of sidewalks and trails in winter. The following staff and equipment work 24/7 in response to forecasted snowfalls and storms: 

  • Over 50 personnel
  • 23 snowplows
  • 6 sidewalk plows
  • 5 front-end loaders

Click here for a list of roads in Niagara Falls maintained by the Niagara Region.

Sidewalk snow clearing

Niagara Falls’ Winter Maintenance Policy Plan outlines that the City is responsible for clearing approximately 200 km of sidewalks (roughly 33%) of the 600 km of sidewalks in Niagara Falls.

City-maintained sidewalks are along high-volume roadways, high-volume pedestrian routes and school routes, as well as sidewalks in proximity to healthcare facilities.

An interactive map of the City’s maintained sidewalks can be found online: Winter Sidewalk Interactive Map. The City of Niagara Falls commences sidewalk clearing on these identified routes once a minimum of 8 cm accumulates. 

The City relies on residents to clear sidewalks adjacent to their property (if they are not included in 200 km of sidewalks that the City maintains).

Sidewalk clearing tips:

  • Be a good neighbour. Clear snow and ice from sidewalks as soon as possible after a snowfall to ensure that they are safe for all residents. Lend a hand to those who may not be physically able to shovel.
  • Please make sure that your car is parked in your driveway. Please do not let it extend onto the sidewalk.
  • Salt icy patches on the sidewalk adjacent to your property between snowfalls.
  • For safety reasons, when clearing snow and ice, property owners and occupants must ensure that the snow and ice is not placed:
    • Immediately beside or blocking access to a fire hydrant
    • In such a manner that it would block drainage to any drain, sewer catch basin or culvert
    • On a road or boulevard as it could interfere with traffic, cause an accident and can result in a ticket
  • Winter can be a difficult time for persons with disabilities to get around the community. People who use mobility devices along the sidewalks, accessible parking spaces and connecting pathways when snow and ice are on the ground. Your attention to the clearing of snow and ice, and in keeping these areas safe and accessible is greatly appreciated.

Other snow-clearing activities

Highways

The Ministry of Transportation (MoT) is responsible for snow removal on all 400 series highways and the QEW, including on and off ramps. Contact the MoT at 1-800-268-4686 for highway winter road reports or to report dangerous conditions.

Regional roads

The Niagara Region is responsible for maintaining regional roads. There are 27 regional roads in Niagara Falls, including:

  • Lundy’s Lane
  • Ferry St.
  • Bridge St.
  • Lyons Creek Rd.
  • Marineland Parkway
  • McLeod Rd.
  • Thorold Stone Rd.
  • Montrose Rd.
  • Stanley Ave.
  • And more…

For a complete list of all 27 regional roads, including a detailed map, visit the Niagara Region’s website.

Parks and trails

City parks and trails remain open during the winter. City crews provide snow removal services for parks and trails, including parking lots connected to parks and trails, only after all streets and sidewalks have been cleared.

Canada Post super boxes

Canada Post is responsible for clearing snow away from the base of neighbourhood super boxes.

Bus routes

Roads that service public transit are classified as main roads and prioritized during snow-clearing operations.  

Transit shelters

 The City of Niagara Falls is responsible for clearing snow from around bus shelters.

Significant Weather Events

A “Significant Weather Event” (SWE) is defined as an approaching or occurring weather hazard with the potential to pose a significant danger to users of the highways within a municipality, as per Regulation 239/02 of the Municipal Act 2001. Weather Hazards are determined by Environment Canada as meeting the criteria for the issuance of an alert under its Public Weather Alerting Program.

This declaration suspends the standard timelines required for municipalities to meet their winter maintenance objectives until the municipality declares the significant weather event has ended. Once an SWE has ended, standard timelines for winter maintenance activities will begin.

The intent of a declaration is to notify the public that due to the current weather conditions, caution is to be exercised when travelling on the City’s streets and sidewalks, and that it may take longer than usual to restore them to the normal condition.

Significant Weather Event definitions:

Blizzard

When winds of 40 km/hr or greater are expected to cause widespread reductions in visibility to 400 metres or less, due to blowing snow, or blowing snow in combination with falling snow, for at least four hours.

Blowing snow

When blowing snow, caused by winds of at least 30 km/hr, is expected to reduce visibility to 800 metres or less for at least three hours.

Extreme cold

Issued when the temperature or wind chill is expected to reach minus 30 C (degrees Celsius) for at least two hours.

Snow fall

When 15 cm or more of snow falls within 12 hours or less.

Snow squall

When, down wind of large bodies of water, like the Great Lakes, snow squalls are imminent or occurring with one or more of the following conditions being produced:

• Localized, intense snowfall producing snowfall amounts of 15 cm or more in 12 hours or less
• Reduced visibility (less than 400 metres) caused by heavy snow with or without blowing snow for three hours or more

Flash freeze

When significant ice is expected to form on roads, sidewalks, or other surfaces over much of a region because of the freezing of residual water from either melted snow, or falling / fallen rain due to a rapid drop in temperature.

Freezing rain

When freezing rain is expected to pose a hazard to transportation or property or when freezing rain is expected for at least two hours.

Freezing drizzle

When a period of freezing drizzle is expected for at least eight hours.

Winter storm

When severe and potentially dangerous winter weather conditions are expected, including:

• A major snowfall (25 cm or more within a 24 hour period)
• A significant snowfall (snowfall warning criteria amounts) combined with other cold weather precipitation types such as: freezing rain, strong winds, blowing snow and / or extreme cold
• Blizzard conditions may be part of an intense winter storm, in which case a blizzard warning is issued instead of a winter storm warning

Winter tips

The City of Niagara Falls is responsible for clearing snow from around bus shelters.

Snowplows

  • Snowplows have no place to push the snow except to the curb or shoulder of the road. Sometimes this happens just after you have finished shovelling. We appreciate that this can be frustrating; however, we ask your cooperation in clearing the snow without placing it on the roadway. It is illegal to push snow from your property onto the street. If you hire a private contractor to clear your driveway, make sure the contractor does not push snow into the travelled portion of the roadway, or fill in sidewalks.
  • Pile snow on the right side of your driveway (when facing the road) if possible, when shovelling. This helps reduce the amount of snow created by the snowplow at the end of your driveway.
  • Reflective snow markers are available at many local retailers and can be an inexpensive way to help mark the driveway boundary, especially in high-traffic areas.  Snow markers also help to guide road plows and sidewalk plows during storms and can protect properties from potential damage to the lawn.
  • Sometimes the City receives noise complaints from residents regarding snow plowing operations. Regretfully, there is no way to avoid this problem. Sidewalk and road clearing operations are undertaken day and night in order to quickly and efficiently provide for motorists and pedestrians in accordance with provincial minimum maintenance standards (MMS).

Tips for a safe winter drive

  • Give more distance between cars, slow down, and allow yourself more travel time.
  • Clear snow off your car windows, windshields, roof, trunk and hood before driving.
  • Good visibility keeps yourself and others safe.
  • Remember: speed limits are set for ideal conditions.
  • Look twice for pedestrians crossing the road.
  • Give extra time and space to stop in bad weather.
  • Prevent hydroplaning by scanning ahead for large puddles and slowing down.
  • If you hydroplane, ease off the gas and keep steering in the direction you want to go – avoid braking.
  • If you hit black ice and start to skid, don’t brake. Ease off the gas, and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go.

Winter-prep your car

  • Check battery condition, terminals, windshield wipers and washer fluid levels
  • Check coolant system level, lights and signals
  • Observe tire wear and pressure
  • Consider using snow tires for extra traction in slippery weather
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full
  • Start your block heater several hours before driving
  • Start your car at least one minute before you drive it
  • Drive slowly while engine components warm up
  • Completely clear your vehicle of snow and ice, including the windows, mirrors, roof, trunk, hood and lights

Keeping a winter survival kit in your car

Be prepared for winter driving and always keep a winter survival kit in your car.

Kits should include:

  • Charged phone
  • Water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket and warm clothes
  • Jumper cables
  • Shovel
  • Traction mats or sand
  • Candles and a lighter or matches

Pedestrian safety

  • Being aware of our surroundings is key – although hoods, hats and umbrellas are necessary in our climate, it is important you have good visibility.
  • Always make eye contact with approaching drivers and cyclists before crossing the road.
  • Wear bright reflective clothing at night or during poor visibility. There are even reflective items for your pets.
  • Pay attention and don’t text while walking.

Other winter tips

  • Remove snow from around fire hydrants on or near your property to enable quick access by emergency personnel if the need arises.
  • Help prevent street flooding and icing by clearing snow away from storm sewer catch basins near your property.
  • Do not place your garbage or recycle boxes on top of snowbanks. If possible, place them on your driveway near the edge of the road.
  • Ask someone to clear your sidewalk if you’re away
  • Please assist elderly or disabled neighbours by clearing snow for them

Winter parking

Do not park on the street during snow events

Do not park on the street during a snowstorm while snow-clearing operations are underway.

Parked cars make plowing difficult, and sometimes impossible. If vehicles are not removed from city streets during plowing, and are found to contravene the by-law, they will be towed. With your help, winter maintenance crews can plow snow faster and more efficiently and you will reduce the chances of having to dig your car out of a snow drift.

Additionally, please make sure that your car is parked within your driveway. Please do not let it extend onto the street or sidewalk.

No overnight parking

By-law No. 89-2000 states that no vehicle shall be parked on either a City or Regional Road between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. unless it is posted otherwise. This by-law is in effect 365 days a year, however, levels of enforcement change during the year. A violation of this by-law is subject to a minimum fine of $30. Overnight parking permits and special parking provisions will not be honoured during snow events. 

Frozen water lines

How To Prevent Frozen Water Lines

Here are some simple things you can do to prevent water lines from freezing in your home:

  • Seal air leaks in your home and garage, especially in the area of your water lines. Look for leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to keep the cold air out.
  • If you haven’t done so already, disconnect, drain and shut off all outdoor hoses and faucets.
  • Insulate water lines with a pipe sleeve, especially in unheated areas like crawl spaces, basements, attics and storage rooms.
  • Insulate all exposed outside water pipes with foam pipe covers.
  • Keep cupboard doors open if they are beside exterior walls and contain water lines, as this will
  • allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing.
  • Do not set the furnace lower than 12C (55F), even at night.
  • If you’re leaving for vacation, keep the temperature inside your home consistent. Don’t turn off the furnace – set the thermostat in your house to no lower than 12C (55 F).

Thawing frozen water lines on your own

Be certain to follow these precautions to protect yourself & your property if you attempt to thaw frozen water lines on your own:

  • While attempting to thaw the water line, turn on a cold water tap in the basement so you can see if water service is restored.
  • Use a blow dryer, aimed at an angle, on the exposed pipe near your water meter. Only do this for between one and two hours. Do not leave the blow dryer unattended.
  • Place a warm towel or rag around the pipe.
  • Make sure everyone in your home knows where the main water shut-off valve is located and how it works. If a pipe bursts, you will need to shut off water from the main valve.
  • Do not: Use a torch or anything with an open flame to thaw water pipes. Not only is it a fire risk, but you could overheat one area of the pipe, causing it to burst or the joints to pull apart.
  • Do not: Use electrical appliances in areas of standing water as you could be electrocuted.

Hiring a plumber

Here are some questions to ask if you hire a plumber to assess your water line:

  • Is your plumber licensed?
  • Is your plumber insured?
  • Does your plumber have the proper equipment to thaw frozen water lines?

Questions or concerns?

Call the City of Niagara Falls Municipal Works Service Centre at 905-356-1355 for more information.

Cold weather relief

For information on how to prepare for winter storms and what to do during a storm, visit our Winter Storms Information page. For current Winter Weather Alerts, visit Environment Canada.


Daytime Cold Weather Relief 

City of Niagara Falls Facilities

Anyone seeking relief from the cold is welcome to keep warm at the following City facilities during operating hours listed on the websites:

Niagara Falls Public Library Branches

Anyone seeking relief from the cold is welcome to keep warm and stay safe at the following Niagara Falls Public Library branches during opening hours.

  • Victoria Avenue Branch (4848 Victoria Avenue)
  • Chippawa Library Branch (3763 Main Street)
  • MacBain Community Centre Branch (7150 Montrose Road)

Please visit https://my.nflibrary.ca/Locations/All for hours of operation.

Nighttime Cold Weather Relief 

Overnight Shelter - Start Me Up Niagara (5925 Summer Street)

Overnight accommodations for unhoused individuals ages 18 + only began November 1st and will run until April 15th, 2023, 7 days a week, from 7:30 pm to 7:30 am. There is a 9:00 pm curfew, with doors closing at 10:00 pm.

Preregistration is recommended. Walk-ins will be assessed at the door.

Emergency Overnight Shelters

The YWCA of Niagara Region may have emergency shelter availability for men, women, women with children, and families.

  • Please call 2-1-1- for locations and availability.

Emergency shelters for youth and women and children only may also be available at:

Please call 2-1-1 or access the 211 Community Information Database for the latest updates to emergency shelter locations. Individuals can access emergency shelter locations across the Niagara region.

Additional resources may be available through Niagara Region Social Services, Hostels and Homelessness Prevention, and Public Health. Call toll-free 1-800-263-7215.

Shower Facilities in Winter

Shower facilities are available at Gale Centre, 5152 Thorold Stone Road, Mondays and Thursdays (excluding holidays) from 7:00 am to 10:00 am

  • Towels and shower supplies are provided.
  • A shuttle will be provided from the overnight shelter (Start Me Up Niagara, 5925 Summer Street) to the Gale Centre on Monday & Thursday mornings.

Rides to Libraries & Shelters During Extreme Cold Events - Niagara Falls Transit

Niagara Falls Transit offers free bus rides to the warming centres listed above on days the temperatures are forecasted to reach -15°C (5°F) or colder or when wind chills are forecasted to drop to or below -20°C (-4°F). 

Food Access

Breakfast Program – Third Space (4345 Queen Street, Niagara Falls)

Unhoused individuals are welcome to attend a 30-minute indoor breakfast, at the following location, for the listed times:

  • Monday to Sunday:
    • 7:45 am - 8:15 am
    • 8:15 am - 8:45 am
    • 8:45 am - 9:15 am
  • *On Sundays, Third Space will be open until 10:45 am, and unhoused individuals can sit depending on capacity.
  • Space is limited.

Niagara Falls Community Outreach (The Soup Kitchen):

Niagara Falls Community Outreach Soup Kitchen provides nutritious meals to anyone in need, free of charge. The Soup Kitchen is operated by Niagara Falls Community Outreach.

  • Hot bagged lunches are available 7 days a week from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm.
  • Located at 4865 St. Lawrence Avenue, Niagara Falls.
  • Telephone: (905) 354-1640.

Niagara Region Public Health

Learn more about the health risks due to exceptionally cold temperatures from Niagara Region Public Health. Please visit Niagara Region: Housing and Homelessness for more information on local services.

The City of Niagara Falls, Start Me Up Niagara, Niagara Falls Public Library and Niagara Region have worked jointly to offer cold weather relief to the community.

damage

Snowplow damage reporting

Report damage

Have a sidewalk plow or road plow damaged your property? Fill out a Snowplow Damage Form to let us know.

Remove obstacles

Please remember to keep obstacles such as landscaping hedges, rocks, private curbing and underground irrigation systems off of the City's right-of-way.  This includes the boulevard and up to your property line.  Any underground irrigation system placed on City property that is damaged by a plow will not be replaced by the City.  Operators can find it difficult to maneuver a trackless sidewalk plow around overgrown hedges and shrubs that abut the sidewalk.

Why does the sidewalk plow sometimes damage the sod?

Some older sidewalks in the City are undersized in comparison to the sidewalk plow blade.  The machine plow blade is 5 feet in width and when angled is 4 feet 2 inches.  The blade needs to be wider than the machine wheel base which is 4 feet wide or material would simply be pushed back onto the walk by the wheels once the plow blade has gone by. Typically sidewalk widths in Niagara Falls are 4 feet to 5 feet wide.  As the angled plow blade width is 4 feet 2 inches it should be noted the margin for error is minimal.

When the City plow or other City repair work has damaged the sod can I fix the area myself and get reimbursed?

Yes. If the sod was damaged from City operations and you wish to repair the area yourself please contact the Municipal Service Centre at 905-356-1355 ext. 6510 to speak with the Customer Service Coordinator. This includes but is not limited to damage caused from a City road plow, City sidewalk plow, watermain break repair, curb stop repair, hydrant repair or City tree removal (except for Capital Construction Projects still within warranty).

  • Property owners must first notify City staff of your intentions, prior to commencing restoration work or purchasing any necessary materials.
  • City Staff will mark and measure the site in order to determine the amount of materials needed and the total reimbursement amount. The City only reimburses for the area damaged by City plow operations.
  • The property owner will be notified of the reimbursement amount and will be required to sign an acknowledgement form outlining the details of the reimbursement including the costs. This form also acknowledges that the City is not responsible for the quality or ongoing maintenance of the sod, including watering.
  • Once the property owner signs and returns the acknowledgement form they may purchase the materials and carry out the work.
  • This reimbursement is for materials only (soil, seed, sod). Labour costs are not included and will not be repaid. Upon completion the property owner must notify the City and provide staff with proof of purchase in the form of receipts or invoices. A City employee will inspect the site and approve the reimbursement.
  • Upon approval a cheque will be mailed to the property owner. Please allow 30 days for the cheque to be processed.
  • Property owners who choose this option are still eligible for the $10 sod watering rebate. The City of Niagara Falls is not responsible for sod that dies due to lack of watering. Please call the Municipal Service Centre to activate the rebate at 905-356-1355.

This is a faster option for those who do not want to wait for the City contractor to complete all the various repairs on their city-wide work list, which includes asphalt, concrete and sod repairs.  These repairs can take some time to complete and be scheduled well into the Fall depending on weather and the total sites included in the city-wide restoration program.