Environmentalists call for alternatives to salting wintery roads

16 Dec 2019 6:58 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)


KITCHENER -- What is the cost of salting roads – financially and environmentally?

The World Wildlife Fund is urging Ontarians to cut back on road salts that they say are a critical threat to freshwater and wildlife in the province.

“In winter we sometimes see ocean levels of salt,” said Elizabeth Hendriks, vice-president of fresh water for WWF Canada. “The levels we’re seeing are just outrageous and habitats can’t [handle] those levels of input.”

While the tri-cities follow salt management plans to reduce salt use and environmental expense, their  spending can still reach past the one million dollar mark.

The city of Cambridge spent $555,000 for 6,100 tonnes of salt this fall, while Kitchener spends an annual average of $1.3 million for 15,500 tonnes, and Waterloo spends $775,000 for 8,512 tonnes.

These totals do not account for any additional purchases of salt later in the winter or how much private contractors use.

Private contractor Clintar Kitchener uses an average of 5,000-6,000 tonnes per year and has been certified by the ‘Smart About Salt Council’.

“The whole goal is to recognize and try to develop practices that reduce the amount of salt used,” said Jim Maloney, owner of Cintar Kitchener. “How you do it, how much you apply, how often you do apply.”

He says they try to apply alternatives when they can.

“There are some liquid products, salt brine, there’s magnesium-based products,” said Maloney. “There are alternatives.”

WWF Canada commends Waterloo Region and municipalities for their efforts to reduce road salts, but says the long-term impacts of salt alternatives are still unknown.

They add that research is being done to find out what they are and how much money they can save.

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