The rare snow day that almost closed down Durham

It was a beautiful white day yesterday – indoors! But it did create quite a bit of a havoc with services and operations across Durham, especially on the roads.

Town of Ajax reported several cars being abandoned. “Many vehicles have been abandoned or left on streets throughout the town. This will impact plowing operations. Windrows will be substantial and unavoidable.”

Yesterday was the first day of school this year in Ontario, but Durham District School Board (DDSB) announced that Durham Student Transportation Services (DSTS) has cancelled all transportation for due to inclement weather. ” Buses are cancelled in all zones. All Elementary schools will be closed. Secondary schools will be transitioning to online learning for the day.”

Durham Catholic District School Board also announced that buses were cancelled for all zones due to inclement weather. “DCDSB Secondary schools switch to virtual learning today. Elementary schools and Before-and-After school programs are closed.

Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) issued a drive safe alert. “Morning Durham! Accumulating and blowing snow expected to continue! Please drive accordingly – slow down, and make sure you clear all ice/snow from your vehicles. Give yourself extra time and be patient! Stay safe!”

It also said the Regional Reporting Centre in Whitby was closed until further notice. Accidents will be investigated at scene when needed.

Durham Region Transit (DRT) informed that due to inclement weather, DRT operators are using extra caution as they travel at reduced speeds. Services may be delayed. On Demand service in rural communities is suspended until further notice.

Clean-up efforts

Environment Canada had projected 40-60 cm of snow by last evening. Town of Ajax estimated that the cleanup could take a couple of days. “The clean-up from this winter event is expected to take up two days to complete. We ask for your patience while we respond to this storm.”

Residents had to dig themselves out creating huge snow banks on the sides of their driveways.

Durham Region services disrupted

The Regional Municipality of Durham advised residents of disruptions to regional services including child care centres, Health Department vaccination clinics, Durham Region Transit services, and waste services due to the winter storm.

It said the following services have been impacted due to weather conditions:

  • All Regionally operated child care centres are closed for the day.
  • All Durham Region Health Department COVID-19 vaccination clinics are closed. Clients with appointments scheduled for today are being contacted individually to re-book.
  • Durham Region Transit operators are using extra caution as they travel at reduced speeds, and services may be delayed. On Demand service in rural communities is suspended until further notice.
  • Durham Region Health Department’s Oral Health Clinic located in the Whitby Mall at 1615 Dundas St. E. will be closed on January 17. This clinic will reopen on January 18.
  • Due to inclement weather, Durham Region Health Department will not be accepting water samples at offices located at 101 Consumers Dr., Whitby and 181 Perry St., Port Perry. Water sample drop-offs will resume on January 18.
  • Waste Department services: Blue box collection has been cancelled today in the City of Oshawa and the Town of Whitby. Collection will be shifted by a day in Whitby and Oshawa only , so if your blue box collection is scheduled for Monday, it will now be collected on Tuesday. This shift will continue throughout the week with Friday’s blue box collection shifting until Saturday. These changes are only in effect for Whitby and Oshawa. Oshawa and Whitby residents can check with their municipality for green bin and garbage collection updates.
  • Town of Whitby said due to heavy snowfall, Monday’s garbage/green bin collection will be moving to Saturday, and the rest of the town’s garbage/green bins will be collected regularly. Additionally, Durham Region has notified the Town that Blue Box recycling for the entire Town will bump one day forward (plus one day).
  • Curbside Special collection scheduled for Monday, January 17 in the Municipality of Clarington (bulky goods) and Town of Ajax (metal goods and porcelain) will be collected on Monday, January 24.

It reminded drivers are reminded to drive according to the conditions. Allow for extra driving time or wait until conditions improve.

Heavy going for snow plows

The statement said maintenance crews from the Works Department were working hard to clear regional roads for motorists.

Information about overnight warming centres, for cold weather, is available at

Lakeridge Health also announced that all Covid-19 Assessment Centres across Durham Region were closed.

Even outdoor skating rinks could not cope with the snow build-up. Outdoor ice rinks at Delpark Homes Centre closed due to weather, said an Oshawa statement.

Snow plows were out everywhere having a tough time managing the snow removal and keeping the arteries open.

There were also requests to clear snow from around fire hydrants adjacent to your property to keep them visible and accessible to firefighters in case of emergency.

Driving hazard

Clarington declared a significant weather event under the Municipal Act. This declaration states that the weather poses a “significant hazard to users of the highways,” allowing municipalities extra time to clear the roads and prioritize main routes to make them safe.

“Our snow plow operators will continue to work hard to maintain the roads. This declaration allows us more time to meet our safety commitments. Under the Highway Traffic Act, safety dictates that our crews need a mandatory eight-hour break after a 13-hour shift to get back on the roads safely. This means that we will be prioritizing routes based on traffic volume to try and keep pace with the ongoing snowfall,” said Director of Public Works Stephen Brake.

“Mother nature has created a safety issue for us today. I would encourage our residents to stay off the roads and stay home for now. Please let this weather pass. If you do go out, drive according to road and weather conditions, and maintain a good distance between cars,” added Fire Chief Mariano Perini.

The municipality also closed its facilities, including Town Hall (Municipal Administrative Centre).

In the Township of Scugog winter operations began at 4 am with crews out clearing roads and sidewalks. White out conditions are expected. If you have to travel please use caution and drive to the conditions, remember to give plows plenty of room to operate.


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