Mon. May 23rd, 2022

Mayor John Tory says cleanup efforts are likely to last more than three days after a massive snowstorm shut down major highways and wreaked havoc on transportation, schools, garbage collection and other services on Monday.

Tory said the city is introducing a major snowstorm condition to allow crews to plow and remove snow more efficiently by banning parking on some major routes and providing “friendly tows” to vehicles that can block snow removal.

“The snow condition has generally been declared for a period of 72 hours, but it can be extended beyond that, and it will probably be extended to some extent beyond that, because I think this snow removal work will take time,” Tory said. . “The staff has been clear to me and to the day-to-day manager (of Transport Services) Barbara Gray that this is the right thing to do and a necessary thing to do to ensure we can clean up the city effectively. and also make sure that we maintain security in all circumstances. “

Parking on roads designated as snow routes – primarily roads in the city center and all tram routes – will be prohibited for as long as the condition lasts. A map of the routes performed can be found on the city’s website. Those who get their vehicles towed will be able to locate them by calling the non-emergency phone at the Toronto police.

The condition also means the city will actively remove snow for a storage facility instead of leaving it in place to melt naturally after plowing. The removal is likely to begin later in the week after plowing operations, the city said.

Tory said everyone who does not have to go out should stay home and those who need to venture out should try to avoid using their personal vehicles as many cars are stuck and now block major routes .

The move comes as crews work to make the city’s roads and transportation routes passable.

Heavy snowfall covered the GTA this morning, shutting down the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway for hours, stopping hundreds of city buses in the snow.

Environment Canada issued a blizzard warning to GTA early Monday amid one of the largest winter storms the region has seen in many years. The National Weather Agency later downgraded the weather event to a winter storm warning, which was eventually dropped shortly before noon.

During the peak this morning, about eight to 10 inches of snow fell every hour. Gusts of wind up to 60 kilometers per hour still cause snow to blow over the region.

Toronto police temporarily closed Curtains and DVP around 10 a.m. due to dangerous road conditions. Both have since reopened, but officials say traffic is slow.

[Click here for a photo gallery of scenes across the GTA this morning]

Speaking to Newstalk 1010 on Monday morning, Prime Minister Doug Ford, who lives in Etobicoke, called the situation on the Toronto roads “an absolute disaster.”

“I’m right in my four-by-four pickup trying to help people out. I just picked up a gentleman, dropped him off at home, but I just encourage everyone to stay home. We have buses sideways up on Dixon Road.” said Ford.

“If you can give someone a lift, get them stuck in their car, pull … give them a lift somewhere and get them home safely.”

In an interview with CP24, Ford said he drives around his neighborhood trying to make sure people are not stranded in their cars.

“I’ve put a few people off in their homes. You’re just doing what you have to do. Everyone’s doing it. I’m no different. Premier or no prime minister, you’re there to help your neighbors right now,” he said.

Environment Canada warns of “very difficult or impossible” travel conditions with “near zero visibility.”

“If you get stranded in a vehicle, do not leave. The vehicle offers some form of protection from the cold. A single person walking through the snow is harder to find than a stranded car or truck,” the weather agency said in its counseling.

“If you travel and get lost, stay where you are until the blizzard is over. Protect yourself from wind, cold and disorientation by staying sheltered, indoors or with your vehicle.”

Ontario Provincial Police say there have been “numerous” reports of collisions and vehicles stuck on the roadway this morning due to the snow.

“The 401 is pretty much stopped right now,” OPP Sgt. said Kerry Schmidt Monday morning.

“Anyone who thought they were going somewhere this morning is probably coming too late when it never is, and they probably regret that they ventured out in the first place.”

A pileup involved a tractor-trailer on the Gardiner Expressway near Park Lawn Road blocking all eastbound lanes earlier this morning before the highway was completely shut down.

“It’s been an intense morning,” CP24 meteorologist Bill Coulter said Monday.

“We knew we would have a period where we would get about five to eight inches per hour, maybe in a few hours. It turned out to be maybe closer to 10 inches per hour. It’s like a snow event in an hour. , followed by another snow event in an hour. “

Storm postpones return to classroom

School bus - snow

The significant snowfall has also caused schools across the Toronto area to delay the start of personal learning. Students in Ontario were due to return to the classroom today for the first time in a month, but many school boards, including the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board, closed schools this morning due to bad weather. Students attending schools at TDSB and TCDSB will continue with distance learning today.

TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird acknowledged that the decision to offer distance learning today was “short notice” for many teachers and staff, who he said have been asked to do their best to offer live virtual classes or at least asynchronous learning.

“Knowing that there will be an increase in student absenteeism in the coming weeks due to Omicron … We decided we wanted to maximize learning as much as possible,” Bird told CP24 Monday morning.

“We thought it was best to get as many learning days in as possible knowing what was coming.”

Some post-secondary institutions, including Ryerson, the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus, and Sheridan College, have canceled all personal classes today.

Delays, service stops on GO Transit, TTC

The dangerous conditions on the roads create many problems for GTA transit agencies today, including GO Transit.

In a post on social media, Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said on Monday that due to the “dangerous snowstorm conditions”, several GO bus routes have been temporarily suspended or adjusted today.

“Please follow @GotransitBus for the latest update for your bus, if it’s important that you travel this morning. If not, stay home,” she tweeted.

TTC service has also been significantly affected by the conditions, including on the city’s busiest surface route. Shuttle buses ran along the 504 King tram route between Bathurst and Dufferin streets for hours Monday morning.

“We are all dealing with this in real time. Security is always our biggest concern at TTC,” spokesman Stuart Green told CP24.

“The best thing I can advise people is to take a little extra time, pack a little patience and stay home if you can. We’ll probably get you where you need to go, but it’s going to take longer today. ”

While plows and salt trucks have been out trying to clear roads since early Monday morning, the city is urging residents to stay home.

“The goal now is just to keep plowing and making sure the highways, the highways, the arterial roads are cleared. Side streets will be last because we want to make sure the highways are cleared,” Brad Ross, a spokesman for the city, said Monday.

“We also get to sidewalks, so we do all that, but it’s going to take time. There’s a lot of snow that has fallen and continues to fall. We ask for people’s patience, and that’s why we ask people. to stay off the roads as much as they can. It will allow our crews to have those roads cleared as soon as possible. “

Weather conditions have also prompted a number of other closures and cancellations around GTA, including in the Peel and York regions, where COVID-19 vaccination agreements scheduled for today have been canceled. City-run vaccination clinics are also closed today in Toronto.

Waste collection has been canceled today in various parts of the GTA and Toronto Public Library branches are now closed.

The heavy snowfall is expected to end this afternoon, but snow drifts may continue to cause poor visibility on the roads into the evening.

Tonight, the snow is expected to be replaced by cold temperatures, including wind chill values ​​hovering around -20.

An extremely cold weather alarm has been activated by Toronto’s healthcare staff today, and several heating centers that were already open as a result of an earlier alarm will remain open until further notice.

Environment Canada’s senior climatologist Dave Phillips said Monday afternoon that today’s snowfall could be one “for the record books.”

“The amount of snow, this over three days, hey it would be a big storm, but to think it’s over about 12 hours is pretty remarkable,” Phillips said Monday afternoon.

“Toronto is like a snowball. I mean, it’s snowing over you, under you, around you.”

He noted that so far this winter, Toronto has only seen a total of about 50 inches of snowfall.

“We could really possibly get close to what we’ve had in the last 80 days in less than a day,” Phillips said.

“We are the snowiest country in the world and I think Toronto is proving it today.”

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