Staying Active in the Snow: Capital Ward Report on Active Transportation Winter Maintenance

Ottawa—Today, the office of Capital Ward Councillor Shawn Menard released a report on the winter maintenance of Ottawa’s active transportation network—sidewalks, Multi-Use Paths (MUPs), bicycle lanes and pathways.

The report, titled Staying Active in the Snow: Active Transportation Winter Maintenance Survey, is based on the findings of a survey conducted by the councillor’s office in November 2020. More than 500 residents participated in the survey, and the results revealed a level of dissatisfaction with the way sidewalks, paths and bicycle infrastructure are maintained in the winter.

Survey respondents felt the city needed to improve safety and winter maintenance of the active transportation network, with respondents indicating changes in their transportation decisions and risks to their physical wellbeing. The report notes that:

[t]he design of the infrastructure, the clearing standards, and the hazards and barriers created through neglect stopped people from going outside. It forced people to drive more. It injured people, sometimes seriously.

This report serves as a complement to the report released by the councillor’s office last February, Getting Around in Winter: Winter Operations and Snow Clearing. Together, the two reports demonstrate gaps in the city’s Winter Maintenance Quality Standards (WMQS).

“Many residents rely on our sidewalks, paths and bike lanes for essential travel. Ottawa is a great winter city, but we need to ensure residents have a safe and healthy way to get around in the cold months.”

Despite the current problems with snow standards, Menard says there is some hope on the horizon.

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve been working collaboratively with great winter maintenance staff to shift resources to better clear our sidewalks and paths, but there’s only so much staff can do. They’re constrained by the city’s maintenance standards, Luckily, those are being updated as we speak, and we need to get it right.

City consultations regarding winter maintenance standards are ongoing with a deadline of Friday February 19th for filling out a city survey. Residents can find out more and have their say at

To download or view the report online, click here [PDF].

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