OTTAWA -- Waking up to a winter wonderland was an unexpected bonus for Elizabeth Gray Saturday morning.

She and her family have been following all of the provincial COVID-19 restrictions, including staying close to home. If this was any other winter, the family would be on a ski hill, but Saturday the family spend the day building snowmen and snow forts.

“I have not built a snowman in years but today was the day,” Gray said. “It’s a change. It’s something different. We woke up to the beautiful day, we are loving it, the kids are energized, and we are feeling warm and fuzzy.”

Environment Canada reported 15 centimeters of snowfall at the Ottawa airport by 10 a.m. Saturday, with up to 30 centimeters of snow expected by the end of the weekend.

City of Ottawa crews have been out clearing snow since the wee hours Saturday morning, prioritizing main roadways before turning their attention to residential neighbourhoods. 

Laila Gibbons, the director of roads & parking services for the city, says the lack of cars on the streets has made the cleanup smoother.

“We had our staff out in the early morning hours by the time most people woke up,” Gibbons said. “Today, we had already done the first pass on the priority roadways sidewalks and cycling networks by lunch.”

The city has issued an overnight parking ban in effect from 7 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday, to help clear residential streets. 

On-street monthly parking permit holders are exempt from the ban when they are parked in residential parking permit zones.

Covered City-owned parking garages and select OC Transpo Park-and-Rides are open to the public for anyone who needs to move their car.