Open air fire ban now in effect for City of Ottawa

Ottawa Fire Services announced today that the annual spring ban on open air fires is now in effect until further notice. The ban will remain in place until spring progresses enough that the green grass begins to overtake the tall dead grass, as the risks of uncontrollable burns will be significantly reduced.

Every winter, grass and leaves die underneath the piles of snow, and even if the ground seems wet in some areas, the dry grass and leaves create the perfect condition for fast-spreading fires when combined with other dry materials, such as branches, as well as the addition of environmental changes like high winds, prolonged dry spells, early spring surface conditions, cut fields or wet conditions that prevent firefighting equipment from accessing remote and rural locations. 

From the Ottawa Fire Service:

All open air fires are prohibited during a fire ban, including for those properties that have an Open Air Fire Permit. This ban applies to agricultural burns, brush pile burns, as well as campfires. There will be zero tolerance enforcement during the fire ban.
We thank area residents for their patience and cooperation with this matter.

How can you reduce the risks around your home?

During this time of year, you can help reduce the risks close by when you take advantage of weekly yard waste collection. The Ottawa Fire Service offers these additional tips to prevent grass and brush fires in your area:

  • Clear all combustible materials such as tree limbs, leaves and other dry materials away from buildings and propane tanks.
  • Keep barbecue propane tanks at least three metres from buildings.
  • Wood piles should be stored a safe distance from your home.
  • Trees should be pruned to create a good vertical separation from the ground.
  • Clear out any accumulated dry or dead debris from your property.

Cigarette butts a major concern

Every year, cigarettes that are not fully extinguished contribute to the grass fires during burn bans. If you are a smoker, please use caution when disposing of your cigarettes. Cigarettes (lit or not) shouldn't be thrown out of car windows.

More information about open air fires in the City of Ottawa

Please follow our office on Facebook and Twitter to get regular updates. We'll announce there when the ban has been lifted. 

If you are interested in obtaining a burn permit, you can get more information at or visit the North Gower Client Service Centre (or any client service centre) on Thursdays.

Read more about the open air fire by-law here.

Recreation and cultural program registrations open March 7!

City of Ottawa recreation registration opening soon!

The City of Ottawa is launching registrations for all of its spring and summer recreation programs next week:

Aquatics - Monday, March 7 @ 9pm
All other programs - Wednesday, March 9 @ 9pm

Test out the new registration system early!

Recreation registration page

Since the last registration period in the fall, the City has upgraded its system. To avoid issues signing up next week, perform this simple test:

  1. Visit the City's recreation site.
  2. Click on the green "Register" button.

If the registration page appears, you are all set to be able to register for programs. However, if it doesn't appear, you're encouraged to try on a different device or use a different internet service provider. You can also register by phone by calling 613-580-2588 when registration opens. 

Expect delays during the busy times

Registering for programs when the period first opens always means that phone lines may be busy and the registration site load times may be slow or fail due to the increased traffic. We appreciate your patience as we work to complete registrations for everyone interested. 

Have your information ready to register

Don't forget that you'll need a client barcode, as well as family PIN numbers in order to register for any City of Ottawa programs. If you don't yet have one, you can create a client account here.

Do you know a Snow Angel? Please report them!

What a winter! 

It started out with an unusual October snowstorm, then settled into unusual mildness that lasted almost until the New Year. Of course, winter is inevitable and the mildness was balanced out significantly with the second snowstorm of the season on December 29th. 

We haven't had the usual small accumulations of snow this year. The snow fall has very much been feast or famine. Of course, the "feast" times have meant significant challenges for some residents to keep up with snow removal and clearing so they can maintain their routines safely.

Stories of residents helping residents have been spreading around Ottawa and it's wonderful to hear. The City of Ottawa calls these people Snow Angels. A Snow Angel is a neighbour or friend who has volunteered to help an elderly or disabled person by clearing snow from a driveway, steps, or walkway. 

Report a Snow Angel today

If you know someone you think deserves to be called a Snow Angel, let us know - the City of Ottawa wants to thank them!

Snow Angels will be recognized with a certificate signed by the Mayor and a custom keychain with a snowflake symbol and Ottawa logo. 

To nominate a resident for recognition as a Snow Angel, plese give the City the name and address of the nominee, as well as other details about who they are helping and how. Send your nomination to:

  • Email:
  • Mail: Attention: Snow Angel Program, City of Ottawa,100 Constellation Crescent, 5th floor, K2G 6J8
  • Fax: 613-580-9605 Attention: Snow Angel Program

Be sure to include your contact information so that staff can confirm details of your nomination. You can learn more about the Snow Angel Recognition Program and other winter weather assistance programs by visiting the City of Ottawa website.

Commemorative Naming Proposal: North Gower Bowling Alley

The City of Ottawa Commemorative Naming Committee is conducting public consultations on three separate naming proposals to:

Rename the North Gower Bowling Alley as “Gerry Lines Bowling Alley”

Gerry Lines Bowling Alley (Ward 21 – Rideau-Goulbourn)

In recognition of Gerry Lines’ extensive community service, the City of Ottawa has been asked to rename the North Gower Bowling Alley as the “Gerry Lines Bowling Alley”.

Gerry Lines served as president of the North Gower Community Centre Board for 11 years. During that time, the Board managed the community centre, the ball diamond, boys’ and girls’ ball teams, as well as the outdoor arena and hockey. Gerry was also instrumental in the development and construction of various recreational facilities in his community, many of which continue to be enjoyed by residents of North Gower. 

View the online proposal for the “Gerry Lines Bowling Alley”.

How do potholes form and what is the City of Ottawa doing about them?

The weather we've experienced in Ottawa this winter season (2013-2014) has been challenging - and not just in Ottawa, but across Canada. Since November 1, 2013 the City of Ottawa has received more than 230 cm of snow and experienced significantly colder temperatures than normal for a longer period than usual. Overall, the temperature has been below average with freeze/thaw cycles also occurring later in the season than normal. This has led to an increase in the volume and severity of potholes, as frost penetrated deeper into the ground and will take longer to rise out as it warms up.

Generally, potholes are formed when water seeps into cracks in the surface of the road which, combined with the vibration of traffic over those cracks, causes the asphalt to fail. Potholes are also created when the roadway is stressed by trucks and buses as this can cause movement of the subsurface. Once there is a weak spot, every car that travels over the area increases the depth, and, eventually, a section of the material will fail causing a pothole to form.

Current Status

The Public Works Department takes a proactive approach to maintaining potholes year round. In addition, this year there has been a substantial increase in the number of pothole service requests generated by the public. You can report a pothole by calling 3-1-1 (613-580-2400) and providing the following information: The street name and number or street name and intersection closest to where the pothole is located. Additionally, the City produced a short video about potholes and how to report them. This is shared with the public via OttCity Online.

Pothole repairs began a little earlier than usual this year - on January 13, 2014. This was caused primarily by the thaw/ freeze that occurred in late December and again in early and mid-January. Since then, crews have been repairing potholes when weather conditions are favourable. Typically, snow events are the only time that pothole repair crews are not deployed.

Number of potholes repaired and number of service requests received

Year (January 1-March 18) Number of Potholes Repaired Number of 3-1-1 Service Requests for Potholes
2014 56,075 3,330
2013 57,797 2,770
2012 43,546 1,466

Data as of March 28, 2014

In order to improve response to pothole repairs, the Public Works Department is undertaking the following initiatives:

  • Sourcing additional contracted crews to be hired on a temporary basis; currently the Department deploys 5 contracted crews. The number of new crews will depend on availability.
  • Experimenting with different types of cold patch, including one that is said to have extra bonding power.
  • Researching different products and asphalt mixes as well as best practices in order to improve operations for future years.
  • Adding 9 new hotboxes. These can be utilized with existing staff.
  • Sourcing a used grinder (smaller and mobile) for immediate purchase. This will enable staff to make more permanent repairs to the chronic pothole areas by cutting out a larger area that can be properly compacted by a roller.

The Public Works Department will continue to provide the highest level of service possible in order to address potholes throughout the year. In the meantime, please continue to report any potholes you find in your travels online through ServiceOttawa or call 3-1-1 (613-580-2400).

The signs that spring IS coming (believe it or not)

Despite the snow this past weekend and the cold last week, there are ongoing signs that spring is, indeed, on the way.

Sledding hills were officially closed March 20th

The City of Ottawa has closed its 56 approved sledding hills for the season due to milder temperatures, which have resulted in unsafe conditions for sledding. The public is urged to keep personal safety in mind and remain off the sledding hills.

Notification of the re-opening of the hills in the winter of 2014-15 will be available on the City’s website at

Even with the fresh pile of snow that we received on the weekend, it's best to forego the sledding hills and look to other fun outdoor activities.

Seasonal load restrictions are now in effect

Last Monday (March 24), seasonal load restrictions began. Commercial vehicles or trailers with a gross vehicle weight in excess of five tonnes or 11,000 lbs. per axle are prohibited on roads where restriction signage is posted, and on all truck routes identified as restricted on the Truck Route Maps (Urban Truck Routes and Rural Truck Routes).

These restrictions also apply to all non-truck routes. Heavy vehicles that exceed weight limits on restricted load roadways during the spring thaw period will be subject to fines.

During the spring thaw period, some roads cannot withstand heavy vehicle loads. Every year, the City monitors thaw progression by utilizing the forecast temperature data to calculate the Thaw Index. When the Thaw Index reaches its threshold value, the load restrictions are imposed. Once the pavement strength has been restored, the load restrictions are removed.

For further information, please visit

Ice breaking, blasting and thawing

It's always important this time of year to be cautious of ice on local bodies of water. It may look solid, but that can be deceiving. Avoid going out on the ice to be on the safe side.

And since we're on the subject of ice, the City of Ottawa has been doing flood prevention on the Rideau River for over 100 years. The workers get to use some pretty fun looking equipment to prevent ice damming that can create local flooding. Watch this video to see how they blast the ice to prevent flooding of the river each year!

Now let's hope the weather starts to warm up!

SnowGo, SnowGo Assist and Snow Angel nominations!

The Snow Go program helps seniors and people with disabilities find a reputable and reliable individual or contractor to clear snow from their private driveway and walkway.  The City of Ottawa partners with the Senior Citizens Council and local home support agencies to deliver this winter program.

Eligible low income seniors and persons with disabilities can also apply for the Snow Go Assist Program and receive financial assistance for snow clearing.  Approved participants may be reimbursed for 50 per cent of the cost of snow clearing, up to a seasonal maximum of $250.  Low income is defined as an annual income of below $25,000 for a single individual and below $32,000 for a household (two or more persons).  An Older Adult is considered any person over the age of 60 years.

NEW: Do you know a Snow Angel who deserves recognition? A Snow Angel is a neighbour or friend that has volunteered to help you, or someone you know who is elderly or has a disability, to improve their accessibility during the winter by clearing snow or ice from their driveway, steps or walkway.

If you know of a resident of Ottawa who is a Snow Angel, the City of Ottawa wants to thank them!  Snow Angels will be recognized with a certificate signed by the Mayor and a custom keychain with a snowflake symbol and Ottawa logo. To nominate a resident for recognition as a Snow Angel, please send the City the name and address of the candidate, as well as relevant details (who they are helping and how), by contacting or calling 613-580-2424 x13363.

For more information about these programs, please visit or call 3-1-1 (613-580-2400).

When can you expect your road to be plowed?

One of the worst times to commute to work is just after (or during) a winter storm. Getting the roads cleared is a high priority, but with 6,290 kilometres of roads (by the way, it's just 5,858km to drive from Victoria, BC to Halifax, NS - a 58 hour trip if you don't stop!), 2,095 kilometres of sidewalks, 225km of Transitway and the 174 to clear in Ottawa, the City has a huge job keeping the roads cleared and safe for drivers.

There's a lot of work and logistics that go into the wintertime road maintenance and there are a few things that residents can do to make the job of clearing Ottawa roads even easier.

The video below will give you a short overview of how our Winter Operations team prepares for and implements snow removal for the approximate 235 centimeters (that's 92.5 inches!) of snow that Ottawa gets each year.

Snow removal resources deployment

The following chart from the video gives an overview of when snow removal resources are deployed. The first column shows the minimum depth of snow for resources to be deployed. The second column describes the parts of Ottawa's infrastructure that resources are deployed for. The third column outlines the standards that are followed for number of hours after snow accumulation ends that residents should see resources deployed.

Min. depth of snow for deployment   Time to clear snow accumulation OR Time to treat icy conditions
As accumulation begins Hwy 174, Transitway, most arterials, and most major collector roads 2-4 hours
 2.5 cm Most sidewalks in downtown core
4 hours
5 cm
Most minor collector roads
6 hours
5 cm
Most primary sidewalks 12 hours
5 cm
Most residential sidewalks 16 hours
7 cm
Most residential roads 10 hours
10 cm Most lanes 16 hours
Clean up
Most intersections and pedestrian crossings 16 hours
  Most bus stops 24 hours


Overnight parking restrictions - November 15 to April 1

As you heard in the video, overnight parking restrictions are put in effect between November 15 to April 1 each winter in the City of Ottawa. Restrictions are put in effect whenever the forecast calls for 7cm or more of snow accumulation. Residents are not permitted to park on the street if an overnight parking restriction is in place. By-law can ticket (and, in some cases, tow) cars that are left on the street when a parking ban is in place.

The purpose of the overnight parking restrictions is to allow plows easy, unimpeded access to all streets. If too many cars are parked on a street, the plows won't be able to get through for clearing.

Want to know when the overnight parking restrictions are in place? Stay up-to-date about parking restriction by visiting to sign up for updates.

Do you have concerns about snow removal?

If you have any concerns about snow removal in your area, be sure to call 3-1-1 (613-580-2400) or make a request for Roads Maintenance through the ServiceOttawa portal.

Why does Ottawa get so many potholes in the winter?

The City of Ottawa posted an explanation for residents about the freeze-thaw cycle that leads to potholes all over the City. Here it is, along with a video that gives residents a better idea of how crews patch these holes during the winter months:

With freeze-thaw weather cycles comes the deterioration of road surfaces and potholes.

During the thaw, the water gets down in the crevices of the road. When the freeze returns, the water expands – popping out asphalt and increasing the size of the holes, especially when vehicles drive over them.

We met with the City’s asphalt crew to learn more about how potholes are formed and how they work to repair them.

The City’s crews do their best to respond to reports of potholes. It’s a big job and last year alone 193,000 were filled.

If you spot a pothole, you can help immediately by:

  • Calling 3-1-1, 613-580-2400 (TTY: 613-580-2401)

We appreciate your help with reporting potholes to ServiceOttawa or 3-1-1 (613-580-2400) - and so will everyone who shares the road with you!

ServiceOttawa is here to help you

Service Ottawa Vision

The City of Ottawa is committed to putting the needs of Citizens first and developed a Service-Ottawa initiative that provides a one-step access to services and information. Council has identified Service Delivery a priority. Therefore Service-Ottawa was created under Service Excellence to standardize the City’s front-end service delivery.

The vision of Service-Ottawa is to achieve better outcomes for Ottawa residents and businesses by providing a consistent and positive client experience across multiple channels with a focus on Service Excellence.

Service-Ottawa: 3-1-1 Call Centre

Service-Ottawa provides three doors to access City of Ottawa services-  one is by calling 3-1-1 (613-580-2400), attending a Client Service Centre in person, or by completing a form online through Service Ottawa. Citizens can call Service-Ottawa for various services provided by the City of Ottawa. Some of these services include:

By-Law Services

Garbage and Recycling

Other animals
Parking in Excess of Time Limits
Unauthorized Parking
Property Violations
Property Violations – Exterior
Property Violations- Interior
Apartments- Garbage
Apartments- Blue Recycling Carts
Apartments- Recycling Grey Bins
Apartments- Recycling Yellow Bin
Curb Side Collection
Black Box- Curb Side
Blue Box- Curb Side
Christmas Tree Pick-Up
Garbage Collection- Curb Side
Garbage Collection Calendar
Order a Garbage Collection Calendar sent in the mail.

Roads and Transportation

Water and Environment

Drain Covers on Roadways
Road Maintenance
Sidewalk and Path Maintenance
Street Lighting
Parking in Excess of Time Limits
Pay& Display Machine
Unauthorized Parking
Graffiti on Private Property
Graffiti on Public Property


After contacting the Service-Ottawa call centre by dialling 3-1-1 or 613-580-2400, a Service-Ottawa call centre agent will provide information regarding municipal services, as well as a create a service request when further action is needed. If a service request number has not been created, agents will provide you with a reference number to allow you to keep track of the progress made on the issue or concern.

Service -Ottawa Gateway Online

Accessing the City Services and information received a technological upgrade, when the City launched an enhanced with the new Service Ottawa gateway. This gateway allows citizens to complete over 250 different types of service requests online, using the click of a button, removing the need to call or visit a Client Service Centre.

The information entered by the citizen will be electronically generated with a tracking number and notification sent directly to the resident, and request sent to the field crew in one step.

Here are some of the top service transactions that can be completed online:

  • Report an issue with green bin collection
  • Report an unauthorized vehicle parked on private property
  • Report a vehicle that has been parked longer that the allowed time limit
  • Pay a parking ticket
  • Report a Pothole on the road
  • Register for recreation classes and activities
  • Request a garbage and recycling collection calendar to be mailed to you

Following up on Service Request

Residents will receive a request number upon completion of a service transaction online. Using this tracking reference number and their email for authentication, residents can track the status of their request and the estimated response time through the Service-Ottawa gateway on

Stay safe while you enjoy the snowmobile trails

With all the snowmobile trails in and around Rideau-Goulbourn, there are lots of people out enjoying the trails throughout the winter months. Snowmobiling is a fun outdoor winter activity, but remember there's always a danger.  A number of accidents are reported every year. Snowmobiling fatalities often involve alcohol, unsafe ice, excessive speed, and riding outside trails and rider abilities. 

Accidents are preventable if proper safety precautions are followed. The following tips will help keep you safe while you enjoy your machines:

  • Machines should be carefully checked before heading out.
  • Riders should read the owner's manual and make sure to get all the required permits and insurance.
  • Riders should wear the proper gear, including an approved helmet.
  • Snowmobilers should always ride with a partner.
  • Stay on approved trails and do not trespass.
  • Riders are reminded that the maximum speed on trails is 50 km/h, and 20km/h where posted.
  • Snowmobilers should plan their route, and advise someone of the plan and arrival times.
  • Carry a cell phone, and GPS if possible.
  • Riders travelling across ice should also wear a floatation device or a floater suit in case they go through the ice.
  • Riders should also practice defensive snowmobiling techniques.
  • Keep an eye out for obstacles on trails such as trees and tree branches, trail washouts, and snow banks.

The Ottawa Police Service Marine, Dive and Trails Team will be hitting the trails this winter to do prevention, education as well as enforcement. For more information, visit the Ottawa Police Service's page on snowmobile safety or learn more from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

Canada's Confederation Celebration!

In 2017, Canada will celebrate the exciting milestone of 150 years since Confederation. As one of the biggest and significant events in our country's history to date, and as the capital of this great nation, Ottawa will be the place to be.

But the City of Ottawa wants to know what you think! What should we do to welcome those who wish to mark this occasion with us?

The City of Ottawa's 2017 Task Force is inviting all residents to take five minutes to complete this survey with ideas and comments as we prepare to make the 150th anniversary of Confederation a celebration to remember!

If you have any questions regarding the survey, or any other 2017-related matter, please direct your inquiries to Danyelle Belanger at or 613-580-2424 x24248.