Salt shortage has private plow companies scrambling, Region, town unaffected

16 Sep 2018 8:22 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

They say not to cry over spilled milk, but this year it might be worth crying over salt.

Landscape and snow removal companies across Ontario and the eastern U.S. are scrambling to meet their stocks for winter amidst a shortage of road grade rock salt.

The salt shortage is the result of a strike over the summer involving workers at the Goderich Salt Mine, the world’s largest mine producing road salt.

“If there’s a salt shortage like we experienced last winter, we go to more sand,” said Dick Spear, superintendent of public works at the town of Halton Hills.

He said that by the end of last winter, the municipality was contacting Sifto on an almost daily basis because they had no salt left. “It was really scary for a while there.”

The ice rain that pummeled southern Ontario in the spring depleted salt stocks across the province, affecting even large municipalities like the City of Toronto.  

 “It was an anomaly last year,” said Spear, talking about last year’s shortage, noting that he’s spoken with the supplier.

Spear said that labour issues with the mine have been sorted out at Compass Minerals in Goderich, as well as the necessary mining upgrades that spurred the strike in the first place.

Depleted stocks at other mines are also contributing factors.

Producers are allocating supplies to municipalities first, then allowing sales to general market.

Spear says that the town has confirmed an adequate supply of salt for the upcoming season.

 The Halton Region has the required amount of salt from their supplier for the winter and says the price has not been impacted by the shortage.

As municipalities take precedence over private contractors, both the town and the region are not imminently concerned about a shortage of salt, or a rise in prices.

However, Landscape Ontario says a price hike in salt for private contractors in inevitable in this situation.

The town of Halton Hills has a set contract with their salt supplier that will last until the 2021-2022 season.

Landscape Ontario is taking steps to mitigate the effects of the shortage, according to the organization, private contractors will have difficultly securing enough salt for the winter.

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