We recently bought an old house in Toronto and while cleaning up the house, we discovered that one of the big rain barrels on the property cracked from freezing.
I haven't had rain barrels on a property before, and find the idea of winterizing them a bit strange. If we empty and drain the rain barrels, then it means that the downspouts will drain.... onto the sidewalks around the house? So for the late fall and early spring, rather than having ice in the barrel, we'll have ice all over the sidewalks?
When I search for freeze-resistant rain barrels, I get nothing other than people talking about installing pumps or heaters. This is a bit ridiculous for -20C February temperatures, and we certainly can't time de-winterizing the rain barrels for the thaw; temperatures usually go up and down around that time with a few false starts to spring and re-freezings.
What do people in cold temperature cities do? -20C isn't even that bad. Historically, Toronto houses had their downspouts connected to the waste sewers, but this caused sewers to overflow in rainstorms and raw sewage to be released into the lake... so they had a mandatory diversion program, which meant everyone diverted to storm sewers on the street or got rain barrels.