Island man wants province to stop putting salt on dirt roads

24 Jul 2018 7:01 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

An Island man says a chemical used to minimize dust on dirt roads during the summer months does a number on his vehicle and leaves him paying more for car maintenance every year.

The province applies magnesium chloride — a form of salt — as a dust suppressant on dirt roads Island-wide. But Merrill Gillis, who lives on unpaved Gillis Road, said the chemical is corrosive and harmful to everything from his brakes to the body of his vehicle.

"The problem is when you get your car cleaned for the summer … one drive on the road, it destroys that," he said. 

"You basically end up getting the undercoating done twice a year to try and fight this."

He said the chemical doesn't just add to the maintenance of his car, but his dog has trouble walking on it. He said it's hard on the paws of any animals walking on the road and questioned its impact on nearby rivers and streams.

A spokesperson with P.E.I.'s Department of Transportation, Infrastructure and Energy said magnesium chloride is used in many sectors and has been demonstrated to be environmentally friendly. In a statement, the department also said the chemical is less corrosive than calcium chloride, another dust suppressant.

Gillis said dealing with salt on roads in the winter is bad enough, and that he'd like to get a break from it in the summer months.

He wants the province find a different solution to the dust problem or allow residents to choose whether or not they'd like the substance applied to their road.

And he'd like to see more discussion of the issue. 

"People should know what it's costing them, in terms of vehicle maintenance and other issues," Gillis said.

"I think that if they knew what the damage they were enduring with this or paying for they would be dead set against it."

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