Mayor John Tory declares 'major snow storm condition' after blizzard batters Toronto
Toronto Mayor John Tory is declaring a 'major snow storm condition' to remove the snow left behind by a blizzard Monday morning that forced the closure of schools and major roadways across the city.
The measure, which can last for at least 72 hours but may be extended if necessary, means that motorists cannot park or stop on a designated snow route. If they do, drivers may be slapped with a fine and towing may result.
Designated snow routes are primarily located in Toronto’s downtown core and include all streetcar routes, according to the city. Snow routes are all clearly signed and parking on a designated snow route during a major snow event is subject to a fine of up to $200.
“This is a major winter storm and the city is continuing with its efforts. It’s going to take some time and require some measures that are more extraordinary than a modest snowfall,” Tory said during a news conference. “Today was a good day to leave the car at home. Tomorrow would be the same thing. Maybe even the day after that.”
A map and list of streets affected by the major snow storm condition can be found here.
Tory’s declaration comes after Environment Canada issued a winter storm warning Monday morning due to gusty winds and near-zero visibility as parts of Ontario braced for up to 60 centimetres of snow.
The snowfall was so heavy that the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway were closed for several hours in the morning.
Just after 1 p.m. on Monday, police announced that the Gardiner had fully reopened. The Don Valley Parkway had also reopened as of 3 p.m.
Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said some drivers were stuck in the snow on Highway 401, near Weston Road, for hours as plows tried to navigate around the cars.
“Traffic is blocking everything,” Schmidt said. “It’s compounding every issue. Cars are here. They can’t move. The plows can’t get through to move, the tows can’t thought because the plows and cars are blocking their way.
The blizzard warning originally issued by Environment Canada Monday morning has now ended but a winter storm warning is still in effect.
Environment Canada Senior Climatologist Dave Phillips called Monday's snowfall one "for the record books."
"The amount of snow, this over three days, hey this would be a major storm but to think that this is over about 12 hours is quite remarkable," Phillips said Monday afternoon.
"Toronto is like a snow globe. I mean it is snow above you, below you, around you."
Toronto Paramedic Services posted on Twitter Monday morning, warning residents that weather is currently causing them to experience delays on the road.
In Toronto, snowfall accumulations of 30 to 60 centimetres of snow are expected.
Due to the hazardous conditions, GO transit announced a number of weather-related delays and cancellations. Meanwhile, the Toronto Transit Committee (TTC) is also reporting a number of delays and cancellations due to weather-induced mechanical issues.
As of 6 p.m. the TTC was reporting numerous closures, including a complete shut down of the Scarborough RT. Line 2 is closed between Victoria Park and Warden while Line 1 is closed between Bloor and Lawrence and St. Clair and Sheppard West.
Crews are working to clear the trains, officials said. There are no shuttle buses available.
All vaccination clinics in Toronto, Durham, Peel and York have also been closed due to the hazardous travel conditions.
Toronto Public Library has announced the closure of all its branches today.
In addition, Canada Post has announced a halt to their services, adding that daily service and delivery will resume once conditions are safe enough to do so.
Monday is the first day Ontario students were slated to return to in-person learning across Ontario. However, due to the weather, many schools across the province were not reopen for in-class learning.
Environment Canada said the snowy conditions may continue into Monday evening in parts of the Greater Toronto Area, including the City of Toronto.
Pickering, Oshawa, Durham Region, Hamilton, Uxbridge, Beaverton, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, and Markham should expect similar snowfall amounts.
The snow is expected to stop by Monday night ahead of a return to sunny conditions on Tuesday.
An extreme cold weather alert has been activated in Toronto on Monday and warming centres, which were already open as a result of a previous alert, will remain open until further notice.
CAA SOUTH CENTRAL ONTARIO RECEIVING 500 CALLS PER HOUR
The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) says that its South Central Ontario division received approximately 500 calls per hour related to drivers caught up in the snow.
In an email, a spokesperson for CAA said that this weekend’s cold snap, mixed with today’s snowfall, has increased wait times for service “significantly.”
“We are asking members who are at home safe to call us after the storm passes. Our focus is to respond to high priority calls first including those stranded on roads and highways or safety related,” CAA Spokesperson Nadia Matos said.
At home service is currently suspended due to the high volume of calls. Instead, CAA members can seek out their own service and seek reimbursement after the fact.
If you do travel today and your vehicle breaks down on a highway or major roadway, pull off the road, make yourself and your vehicle visible, and note your vehicle's location.
Toronto Police Services, meanwhile, said that between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m., there have been approximately 250 weather-related calls for service.
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