There are many joys to be had during the long, cold Canadian winters…think ice-skating, skiing and cosy nights by the fire. With the cold, and abundant snow that follows, there is one task which may not fill you with as much happiness: snow clearing.

If you have never touched a snow shovel in your life, that’s something that’s going to have to change now that you’ve made the move to Canada. Snow is in fact a multi-billion dollar business in Canada, thanks to large-scale snow clearing operations undertaken by municipalities, as well as individuals getting involved in snow-clearing, i.e. every man and his dog shovelling snow from their front porch and driveway.

Clearing snow from your property is your responsibility, so it’s essential for you to purchase the right equipment for keeping your house and driveway snow-free during the winter months. During the winter months you’ll likely be outside clearing snow almost every morning. There are many places to purchase snow removal equipment, but the most popular would be a standard hardware/DIY store, such as Canadian Tire, which you can find in most major towns and cities. At Canadian Tire you can buy anything from hand shovels, to snow plows you can attach to your car, to snow blowers. It’s not uncommon for households to own multiple tools to get them through the white winter!

Once you’ve reached the sidewalk and the street, the municipalities take over. Each year, the city of Montréal spends no less than $145,000 to make sure that all streets are functional and “clean”. There are four steps:

  • Salting: spreading salt and gravel on the roads and sidewalks
  • Plowing: moving the snow to the sides of the streets
  • Removal: vacuuming the heaps of snow (after plowing), blowing them into transport trucks
  • Disposal: evacuation towards disposal sites

Every year, 13 million cubic meters (325,000 truckloads) are taken to disposal sites! It’s a real ballet of heavy machinery and trucks, complete with sirens and lights!

You have to pay extra attention to the parking signs during the winter. The efficiency of snow clearing depends very much on the ability of car owners to comply with the temporary orange ‘no parking’ signs that are placed on the street a few hours before the plows arrive. If you’ve forgotten to move your car, the siren will blow in the street right before the clearing operations start (including in the middle of the night!); if you’re lucky enough to hear it, run and move your car before it’s towed! If you need, some of the public parking lots that are usually paying are free during snow clearing periods, see To know more about parking signs and towing during snow-clearing see

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For more information about living in Montreal and surviving the winter, check out these helpful articles and links: