Column: Let's talk about snow programs!

Snow Fence Program

Snow Go Program

Seeing as summer just ended, I must warn you and ask for forgiveness that this column is all about snow.  I assure you, I’m not trying to rush into winter, but merely trying to make sure our winters can be as safe as possible for our drivers and seniors.  Where applicable, I encourage residents of Rideau-Goulbourn to participate in the following two programs.

Snow Fence Program

The City uses snow fences as part of its annual winter road maintenance program. Properly placed snow fences reduce the build-up of drifting snow and ice on roads, and help to keep winter roads safe by improving visibility for motorists. The City of Ottawa currently erects many kilometres of traditional wood-slat snow fences along its roadway network.  The City takes them down each spring.

The City of Ottawa began a pilot project during the winter of 1996-97 to investigate the use of corn and tree rows as alternatives to traditional snow fencing. It has shown that corn and trees provide the same protection as regular wood-slat snow fencing. The program has expanded and has proven to be an economical way for the City to provide a safer driving surface during the winter months.

Standing corn and trees are an economical alternative to the high cost of installing, removing, repairing, replacing and storing traditional snow fences. They keep our roadways safe and clear of snow and ice build-up during the winter season. In addition, corn also eliminates concerns raised over potential damage to tile drainage systems, which may occur with the installation of wood-slat fences.

Sites are selected by priority of problem drifting areas, and by priority of road class, as well as budget consideration. In partnership with the City of Ottawa, landowners with a corn cropping system are encouraged to participate in the Alternative Snow Fencing Program to help maintain the safety of our roadways during the winter months. Each year, in the late summer, city staff visit with landowners to ask them to leave a properly located swath of standing corn throughout the winter instead of installing traditional snow fencing. A successful snow-break using corn requires landowners to leave a strip of corn six to 12 row wide, parallel to the roadway, approximately 20 meters from the road right-of-way property line.

The City of Ottawa will compensate the landowner based on several factors, including the market value per tonne of the unharvested corn, the yield of tonnes per acre and measurement of the actual acres standing (six to 12 rows). Payment is made to the landowners in December following field calculations. The final payment made to the landowner factors in efforts for cleanup work in the spring.

Registration for Snow Go Programs Now Open

Seniors and persons with disabilities can now register for the City of Ottawa’s snow removal assistance programs.

The Snow Go Program helps seniors and persons with disabilities find reliable contractors and/or individuals who will perform the service of clearing snow from their private driveways and/or walkways. Once matched up with snow removal help, residents are responsible for making payments directly to the individual or contractor.

The Snow Go Assist Program provides financial assistance to eligible low-income seniors and persons with disabilities to pay for a portion of their snow removal costs. Approved participants may be reimbursed up to 50 per cent of the cost of snow clearing per event, up to a seasonal maximum of $250.

This is the fifth year the City of Ottawa is partnering with the Seniors Citizens Council and eight local home support agencies to deliver these two winter programs.  In Goulbourn, the City is partnering with Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre and in Rideau, it’s the Rural Ottawa South Support Services.

For more information about the Snow Go Program matching service and the Snow Go Assist Program, including eligibility criteria and application process, visit or call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401).

If you have any questions about these programs or any other issues, please contact me at 613-580-2491 or by email at