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  • 14 Dec 2018 7:31 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/drones-wood-chips-and-beet-brine-now-part-of-cities-arsenal-in-war-on-winter-1.4216841

    A snowblower piles snow

    A snowblower piles snow at the city's newest dump at Blue Bonnets as snow removal operations continue in Montreal on February 14, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

    cities-arsenal-in-war-on-winter-1.4216841

    MONTREAL -- Keeping Canadian city streets clear in winter has been a source of aggravation since the days when work details shovelled snow into horse-drawn sleds.

    But as the coldest months of the year arrive, Canadian municipalities are increasingly turning to innovative solutions to address the problem. Apps, drones, new machinery and alternatives to traditional materials are being introduced to balance safety and efficiency with budget constraints.

    In Montreal, where every winter authorities have to remove some 12 million cubic metres of snow from streets and sidewalks covering a combined 10,000 kilometres, all these solutions are set to be deployed, according to city spokesman Philippe Sabourin.

    To help figure out where to put all that snow, the city this year will dispatch drones to fly over the city's massive snow dumps and identify spaces where more can be added.

    The city's Angrignon dump can reach "something like 10 storeys high, more than four football fields long, so we're using drones to optimize the space, because it's so high that we cannot see the top of the hill," Sabourin said.

    Last year, the Projet Montreal administration faced criticism after above-average snowfalls led to overflowing dumps, tardy snow clearing and a jump in complaints from citizens who slipped and fell on uncleared sidewalks.

    To address those concerns, the city has announced improvements to its Info-Neige application, which tracks snow-removal operations in real time and helps citizens find free parking when streets are blocked.

    One app linked to Info-Neige is a kind of snowplow snitch line, allowing citizens to send the city photos of badly cleared sidewalks. Another helps people find cars towed during snow-clearing operations, Sabourin said.

    A big part of the snow removal problem is the cost -- about $1 million for each centimetre of accumulated snow, he said.

    This year, the challenge is greater because a strike at the Goderich, Ont. salt mine has led to price increases. Montreal this year is paying 30 per cent more to import road salt from Chile.

    Other cities are looking for ways to turn away from traditional rock salt, which has been found to corrode infrastructure and pose a risk to plants, animals and waterways.

    Saskatoon is following Switzerland's lead and testing wood chips to improve traction on roads, while in the United States, there have been reports of cheese brine, pickle brine and potato juice being tested as de-icers.

    Several Canadian cities, including Calgary, have been experimenting with a mixture of sugar beet molasses and salt brine as a de-icing agent.

    The beet brine is less corrosive than pure salt, and the product's slight stickiness allows it to stay in place, meaning less product is needed, Jim Fraser, Calgary's central district roads manager, said in an email.

    Fraser said that based on promising results it has quadrupled its beet brine order from 30,000 litres last year to 120,000 litres for the 2018-2019 season.

    While Montreal has found the beet product clogs equipment and can stain clothing and carpets, Calgary hasn't had that problem.

    The city has been using beet brine mostly in industrial areas, but it has found the product easy to apply and no harder to remove from vehicles than road salt. "Anecdotally, the product has easily washed off clothing of city staff," Fraser said.

    Edmonton, meanwhile, has been testing an anti-icing calcium chloride brine spray on its roads before plowing. It hopes the alternative to sand or rock salt will save money, reduce the environmental impact and improve safety by ridding streets of snow and ice more quickly.

    Infrastructure operations director, Janet Tecklenborg, said the pilot project saved Edmonton $4 million last year. Now, the city is focusing on studying the brine's impact on infrastructure, greenery, and road safety.

    "We're hoping to see, as they have in other jurisdictions, a reduction in the number of collisions and an improvement in safety by reaching bare pavement," Tecklenborg said.

    In addition to the anti-icing project, she said Edmonton has begun using GPS technology on its heavy equipment to better monitor where melting and abrasive products are spread. The goal is to reduce the amount of material by up to 30 per cent.

    Eventually, she'd like to see Edmonton follow the lead of other jurisdictions that monitor pavement temperature, humidity and local weather factors so crews can lay down the right material at the right time.

    Tecklenborg and Sabourin say changes in winter temperatures are both helping and hindering snow removal efforts.

    For example, melting products that are ineffective in a deep freeze work when the temperature is warmer. But an increasing number of freezing rain events and water main breaks has created new challenges, prompting Montreal to buy eight of what the mayor calls "ice-crusher" machines.

    As winter cycling grows in popularity, Montreal is also experimenting with brushes and liquid salt in order to better remove ice from its network of all-weather bike paths.

    But despite the push for better technologies, Sabourin says the city still has no intention of resurrecting the previous administration's dream of heated sidewalks along a downtown stretch of Ste-Catherine Street, which was scrapped last year amid cost concerns.

    "Not for now, no," Sabourin said when asked about the plan. Shovelling, it appears, will never be totally eliminated.



  • 09 Nov 2018 6:56 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.tmj4.com/news/local-news/local-company-looks-to-africa-for-road-salt-amid-shortage

    As Milwaukee prepares for the first snowfall of the season Friday, North American salt remains in short supply due to a 12-week strike at the Goderich Mine in Canada that occurred over the summer. 

    On Thursday, Adam Schlicht, the Port Director at the Port of Milwaukee, said he's confident the area will have all the salt it needs for winter - even if supply is still a bit low. 

    "The salt piles at Jones Island might appear a little low to date," Schlicht said. 

    "But at least 10 more vessels carrying salt will come to the port between today and approximately February 15," he added. 

    He said each of those vessels will be carrying at least 20,000 tons of salt. 

    Additionally, the Port of Milwaukee has already seen about 700,000 tons of salt brought in by vessels so far. 

    One of those was a vessel containing 32,000 tons of salt from Morocco. 

    The MCR Group, a local snow removal company, arranged to buy the salt, according to its President Jesse Hoffmann. 

    Hoffmann said the MCR Group will use the salt at the properties it will plow this winter - like the Bayshore Town Center. 

    But most of it will be sold to other, local snow removal companies who rely on the MCR Group to buy salt. 

    Hoffmann said the shortage of North American salt made it sensible to purchase the Moroccan salt, even if it was pricier. 

    His company placed the order at the end of July. 

    "I don't have the option to go back to (our buyers) and says, 'salt prices are now three times more expensive than what they were,' or, 'I can't get product for you.' That would put me out of business," Hoffmann said. 


  • 09 Nov 2018 6:40 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/11/07/heres-why-compass-minerals-fell-278-in-october.aspx

    What happened

    Shares of Compass Minerals (NYSE:CMP) fell nearly 28% last month, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. While the stock has underperformed in the last five years due to the business' inability to grow income levels, a one-month drop of that magnitude is very unusual. Turns out there's a solid argument for investor pessimism.

    When Compass Minerals reported preliminary third-quarter 2018 earnings in October, the mixed results were accompanied by the announcement that lingering production issues at its salt mine in Ontario, Canada threatened to weigh on earnings for the quarter. Worse still, while a plan is in place to address production shortfalls, there's no guarantee that the mine can ramp up output of road salt in time for winter.

    So what

    The Goderich salt mine in Ontario has been plagued by operational setbacks for over one year. A ceiling collapse in late 2017 reduced production volumes and increased operating costs. When combined with warmer-than-average winters in North America in recent years and weakness in global agricultural markets that weighed on the company's fertilizer business, production issues have forced Compass Minerals to fight for every dollar of operating income it earns.

    That explains why investors just haven't found much to get excited about when it comes to the stock -- even with an impressive dividend yield of 5.5%. News of continued production issues entering the final months of 2018 only made investors more confident in their pessimistic stance, especially since it puts more distance between Compass Minerals and its ambitious plans to greatly improve operating margins by 2020.

    Now what

    On paper, Compass Minerals should be able to deliver consistently strong results anchored by its road-salt operations and small, but growing, specialty fertilizer business. But in reality, the company has run up against production issues, unusually warm winters, and challenging market conditions in agricultural markets.

    Time is running out for the business to deliver on its 2020 goals, and the fact that it keeps sliding in the wrong direction can't be overlooked by investors. However, a 5.5% dividend yield and a strong showing in the next two or three quarters could finally change the stock's trajectory.



  • 08 Nov 2018 3:30 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-city-snow-dumps-surpass-limits-1.4895554

    Quebec City needs to invest $2.5 million if it wants to bring its snow dumps up to code, according to a report commissioned by the city.

    Seven of the city's ten sites need to be refurbished to meet standards set by the Ministry of Environment, as well as the city's own regulations.

    The worst culprit is the Jonquière site, located at the corner of Wilfrid-Hamel Boulevard and Saint-Sacrement Avenue, only 200 metres away from the St-Charles River.

    The dump is filled with pieces of metal that fell from rusty cars, plastics and other garbage picked up by snow plows.

    The crumbling infrastructure at the Jonquière site means sand, gravel and garbage seep into the river according to Stantec, the engineering firm who wrote the report/

    While the ministry and the city's regulations limit the number of particles to 30 milligrams per litre (mg/l), the Jonquière site showed an average of 81 mg/l from 2012 to 2016, at times climbing to 580 mg/l.

    The levels at the other sites aren't as high, but Stantec estimates it will cost $2.5 million to refurbish the entire infrastructure, $1.2 million solely for the Jonquière snow dump.

    Long-standing problem

    Opposition councillor Jean Rousseau said the obsolete infrastructures were highlighted in the auditor-general's report in 2012, who traced back some of the issues to 2005.

    "It's more of the same. We just keep on doing what we've been doing all along," said Rousseau. 

    A plan was put in place following the auditor-general's report, but was suspended in 2015.

    Rousseau said it's ironic that the city has since invested time and money to promote the importance of preserving the region's water sources, like the St-Charles River.

    "It's not a sexy topic when you talk about snow depots."

    Not enough space

    The 307-page report, obtained by Radio-Canada through an access-to-information request, also warned the city could run out of space if there's a repeat of the record-breaking winter of 2008.

    A total of 558 centimetres of snow fell over the city that year, more than double the average from 2012 to 2017.

    In all, 12.9 million metric cubes were packed into the sites in 2008. But with the closure of one of its sites in 2014, the city wouldn't have enough space to pull that off now, according to Stantec.

    City councillor Jérémie Ernould, who is in charge of snow removal and road works for the executive committee, said the city could work around the problem by increasing the capacity of its sites.

    "We wouldn't have any difficulty in storing the snow, we would just be working differently," he said.

    'Nothing toxic'

    The city suspended the work it had started in 2015 because it wanted a more accurate idea of the state of its snow dumps, Ernould said

    "Most of the depots meet environmental standards and require minor work," said Ernould. The work will begin next year.

    At the Jonquière site, Ernould said the particles released into the river could have long-term consequences. But he said there are no toxic chemicals being released.


  • 08 Nov 2018 3:20 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.msn.com/en-ca/weather/topstories/excessive-november-snowfall-about-to-wallop-quebec/ar-BBPtXbZ?ocid=spartanntp

    Quebec by no means is a stranger to November snowfall, but what's about to happen is "excessive" even by the province's high and hearty standards. A merging of two systems will bring heavy snow and strong winds to parts of the province this weekend with additional and several rounds of snow to follow. More on the hefty totals and the widespread long range threat, below.

    WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS:

    • Major low pressure system brings widespread snow over Quebec starting Friday
    • Strong winds set to blast eastern regions through the weekend with dangerous travel expected in blowing snow
    • Active storm track in the long range forecast, eyes on another significant system next week

    Watch below: Timing the rain and snow

    LOCKED IN A DAUNTING PATTERN

    "An active storm track is pairing perfectly with some air from Siberia, which will bring temperatures well below seasonal for November," says Weather Network meteorologist Tyler Hamilton. "When you look at the entire province, there's not a single region in Quebec that will be spared from these early season November snow's over the next seven to ten days."

    WEEKEND SNOW ON THE DOORSTEP

    Over this upcoming weekend, two systems will merge together bringing strong winds and heavy snow to parts of Quebec. This is an Alberta clipper that "joins forces" with a major low pressure system stateside that deepens and strengthens as it tracks northward.

    The storm moves in from the southwest on Friday, gradually spreading eastward through Friday night, prompting Environment Canada to issue a special weather statement for the region, warning drivers to consider "modifying non-essential travel plans."

    For areas north of the St. Lawrence, between 10-15 cm of snow is expected with greater amounts up to 25 cm possible over the higher grounds of central and eastern Quebec. This system will be a messy one for many areas, including the city of Montreal, which will see a messy mix of precipitation as the warm front lifts north of the area.

    a close up of a map © Provided by Pelmorex Media Inc.

    "Eastern Quebec will also be affected by strong winds gusting between 70-90 km/h on Saturday and Sunday," says EC.

    This could mean power outages and treacherous road conditions coming to the area with blowing and drifting snow through the weekend.

    a close up of a map © Provided by Pelmorex Media Inc.

    As the storm departs late Saturday night, another system is set to track up the U.S. eastern seaboard early to mid next week, potentially bringing more heavy snow on the northwestern side of the system.


  • 02 Nov 2018 7:03 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/winter-weather-snow-removal-quebec-montreal-1.4887454

    According to the city, 238 centimetres of snow fell on the island last winter. The average is 190 centimetres. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada) 

    Montreal officials say the city is fully prepared for winter's wrath — adding an ice breaker to its fleet of snow removal trucks while increasing its supply of salt to combat icy roads and sidewalks.

    At a news conference Thursday, Coun. Jean-François Parenteau said improved technology, from mobile apps to drones, will also help improve the city's snow removal services.

    Drones will be deployed over snow dumps to ensure optimal usage of the space. Last winter, the former Blue Bonnets racetrack was turned into a temporary snow-dumping site because the city's three dump sites were too full. 

    Parenteau said the Info-Neige mobile app will be improved this year.

    For starters, the app, which had nearly 273,000 users last winter, will offer more free parking options during snow removal operations.​

    Parenteau, who is the executive committee member responsible for citizen services, said the app will also be linked to the city's resident services app. That app, he said, will be improved as well.

    These improved apps will allow Montrealers to flag issues such as poorly cleared sidewalks, erroneous signs and slippery roads in front of schools, hospitals and bus stops, he said.

    In a statement, Parenteau described the apps as a "powerful tool for us to improve our operations in the field. The city's digital shift opens the door to a host of new opportunities to make everyday life easier."

    Coun. Jean-François Parenteau says the city's Info-Neige app, which had nearly 273,000 users last year, will be improved.

    Citizen participation, he said, is essential to delivering effective services. That participation includes reporting problems through the apps while adhering to parking regulations and driving safely.

    According to the city, last winter was exceptional, with two more snow removal operations than usual to clear the 238 centimetres of snow that fell on an island that averages 190.

    Last winter, the Plante administration came under sharp criticism from residents for the way it handled snow removal operations. 

    Quebec crews also equipped and ready

    Quebec's Transportation Department has also been gearing up for the Montreal region's 2018-19 winter.

    Snow removal trucks are ready to hit the road, salt is in storage and staff are on alert, according to a Thursday announcement.

    The aim, the ministry explains, is to be ready to complete the required operations in a "timely manner" from when the first snow accumulates — to enable efficient and safe travel on the roads that are managed by the province.

    As the ministry is prepared for winter, it is also recommending that drivers get ready as well. Motorists are encouraged to check Quebec 511 for road condition updates before heading out.

    The ministry recommends motorists prepare their car for winter, equipping it with winter windshield wipers, snow brooms, extra clothing, first aid kits, emergency food rations and water.

    Those emergency rations and extra clothing may come in handy if drivers again become trapped on Highway 13 as happened in 2017.

    • Maintaining more than 3,100 kilometres of roads.

    • Spending $36.5 million for all winter maintenance operations.

    • Assigning nearly 210 snow removal trucks to operations.

    • Spreading enough salt to cover nine and a half football fields to a depth of one metre.

    • Spreading enough abrasive to cover two and a half football fields to a depth of one metre.



  • 31 Oct 2018 1:32 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/salt-shortage-scramble-ontario-ice-storm-snow-fall-winter-season-goderich-cleveland-ohio-landscapers-contractors-outsource-egypt-garden-grove/115769

    Friday, October 26, 2018, 3:17 PM - There is nothing sweet about this salty story. Ontario is in a scramble when it comes to salt supply this season.

    Multiple factors have contributed to the shortage, including the spring ice storm in April that dramatically lowered a solid supply leftover from last winter. The Town of Goderich, which is home to the world’s largest road salt mine, experienced a 12-week strike in the summer, resulting in 40 per cent less harvest. In addition, just south of the border the Cargill salt mine in Cleveland, Ohio, has depleted reserves due to a leak that disrupted their ability to extract salt.

    The good news is municipalities have first access to the current reserves. The Weather Network contacted many winter operation departments across southern Ontario, and all have responded with a positive outcome. This salt shortage will not have an impact on road operations.

    Eric Holmes with the City of Toronto told The Weather Network that the city has 40,000 to 50,000 tonnes readily available for this winter.

    While the Don Valley Parkway may turn into a parking lot, it won't become a skating rink this winter. 

    WHO DOES THIS SHORTAGE IMPACT?

    Landscapers, contractors and any privatized service that clears ice and snow, may be impacted.

    Many of these companies have been forced to outsource their salt from Egypt.

    "The boat is on its way," David Lammers, president of Garden Grove said. "It has taken a ton of organization and logistics, but we planned ahead and now we have options."

    This was the most cost-effective method for gathering salt in the private world this season. However, companies who buy salt in bulk can expect prices to rise as much as 60 per cent this season.

    On the contrary, buying just a single bag is not expected to hurt your wallet anymore than it has in previous winters. This type of salt goes through a different process and supply chain. Therefore, the prices are not expected to increase.

    Snowplow dump truck spreading road salt -- Getty Images

    With a scarce supply confirmed for the private sector this could be the time to rethink how we use salt. Lammers told The Weather Network how his company, Garden Grove, is doing so:

    Treated Salt: adding Magnesium to our salt increases the melting ability at lower temperatures. It also provides a residual lasting effect for the surface during the snow event.

    Liquid technology: applying a salt brine blend to surfaces, which is called anti-icing and pretreatment. 

    Better salting equipment: salt use should be calibrated. Garden Grove calculates the output and does not apply more salt than they need to, which reduces unnecessary usage/eliminates waste.

    Better plowing equipment: Adding plows and pushers for loaders and tractors that have advanced scraping ability for better clean up. Leaving less residual snow and hard pack, which reduces the amount of salt needed to help clean surfaces. Better plowing/cleaner plowing equals less salting.

    HOW ABOUT THE REST OF CANADA?

    As Ontario scrambles to make better use of the supply, where does the rest of Canada sit?

    The Maritimes and Quebec have enough supply, and out west the mine in Saskatchewan is doing fine. The dwindling supply of salt is just a story for Ontario and surrounding states. 

    So why can't the rest of Canada just share the wealth?

    Saskatchewan is an expensive alternative due to the cost of running the salt by rail car. It needs to land, be emptied at the rail yard, and moved to storage. The costs to perform this become prohibitive. 

    So, when it comes to money, it looks like Egypt is more cost-efficient. Shipment from Chile and Morocco are also occurring. These international buys usually include storage at ports in the winter, making the deal a little more appealing. 

    This year a perfect storm has hit. The availability of bulk salt has already been an issue for years. The previous winter/spring and current issues at the mines have brought us to this point. And the ripple effect is expected to be felt for years to come. 


  • 17 Oct 2018 7:44 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    http://www.mininggazette.com/news/2018/10/salt-shipment-heralds-onset-of-cold-season

    Photo provided by Mark Upton A ship carrying 13,000 tons of salt for distribution around the Copper Country this winter is seen heading around the bend Sunday toward the Mattila Rock & Dock in Hancock.

    HANCOCK — In the Copper Country, early signs of winter include migratory birds, falling leaves and — the arrival of the salt boat.

    Now that the salt has arrived, it will be trucked around to western Upper Peninsula municipalities and used on roads during the winter months. The trucking was set to begin Tuesday.

    The next shipment is tentatively expected on Oct. 25, although dock owner Dave Mattila noted the current shipment’s anticipated arrival was changed multiple times.

    The salt was delayed, he suspected, in part due to the strike earlier this year at the Goderich salt mine out of Ontario, Canada, where the salt is mined.

    Salt will go to Iron, Alger, Baraga, Chippewa, Delta, Dickson, Gogebic and Houghton counties.

    Of the total, 1,650 tons of road salt will go to the Houghton Road Commission. From there, the salt is mixed into the stamp sands used on the road.

    The mixture ends up being between 3-5 percent salt, said Houghton County Engineer Kevin Harju.

    The mixture is not only a cost-saving measure, because using straight salt can cause issues if not applied carefully.

    “The ice and snow will melt and then refreeze, especially below 20 degrees,” Harju said.

    With the commission usually hauling 10,500 cubic yards a year to supply itself and sell to nearby municipalities.

    The sands are removed from a barrow pit and should last about three to five years before a new source is needed.

    The sands have been tested and approved for use by the state Department of Environmental Quality.

    “The stamp sand that we use have never been chemically treated,” Harju said. “The Department of Environmental Quality has checked it numerous times and not found any chemicals that could be hazardous to the residents by any means.”

    The angular nature of stamp sands makes it work particularly well for traction on roads, he said.


  • 11 Oct 2018 10:32 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.msn.com/en-ca/weather/topstories/this-is-the-snowiest-october-calgary-has-ever-had-—-and-the-month-has-just-begun/ar-BBOerJR?ocid=spartanntp

    Calgary has marked another weather milestone. As of Oct. 10, this October will go down as the snowiest on record with 48.2 centimetres of snow. The old record was 47.5 centimetres of snow in October 1961, according to Environment Canada’s historical records.

    Early season snow blanketed the city at the beginning of the month, with snow falling six out of the first 10 days in October this year.

    Calgary will normally see 10 centimetres of snow throughout the entire month of October. By Oct. 3, 2018, the city had nearly quadrupled that amount.

    A number of snowfall records were set this month: the record of 4.6 centimetres for Oct. 2 was crushed when 32.8 centimetres fell; that snowfall total marked the snowiest single day ever in the month of October; and the record for measurement of snow on the ground was also beaten for a number of days thanks to that system.

    October is typically the least snowiest month between fall and summer. The only months that see less snow than October are June, July, August and September.

    Cold arctic air has been a major factor in the unusual snowfall this year as it has met up with warmer Pacific moisture.

    Early season systems do have the potential to bring high snowfall accumulations because the temperature is still warm enough to produce heavy, wet snow.

    Calgarians are keenly aware of how unusual the weather has been this fall. Daytime highs have been below seasonal for the past two weeks, with some daytime highs below the average overnight low.

    Temperatures are expected to gradually warm up over the next week with daytime highs forecast to get closer to seasonal after the weekend.


  • 03 Oct 2018 1:00 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    https://www.yorkregion.com/news-story/8939777--triple-whammy-threatens-ontario-road-salt-supplies-markham-contractor/

    Winter’s probably the last thing you want to think about, but you may want to consider stocking up on bags of salt for your driveway and walkways as soon as possible.

    There’s going to be a serious road salt shortage in Ontario and the eastern United States this winter.

    Salt producers are allocating scare resources to municipalities first, but private contractors are scrambling to find supplies and higher prices are “inevitable,” according to Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association, which is raising the red flag to its members about the scarcity.

    The Region of York and the region’s nine municipalities will have adequate supplies to salt regional and local roads, Peter Pilateris, the region’s manager of roads operations, said.

    But contractors will be hard-pressed to get their hands on salt for private properties such at parking lots at shopping centres, workplaces, government buildings, public transit stations, hospitals, police stations and fire halls.

    In fact, the industry-wide shortage is expected to be so severe, Terry Nicholson and Brent Giles have resorted to ordering a shipment of salt from Egypt to meet their customers’ needs.

    Nicholson is vice-president of Markham-based Clintar Landscape Management, Canada’s largest snow removal contractor. Giles is the company’s director of operations and corporate training.

    Clintar, along with a few other contractors, has purchased 48,000 tonnes of salt from Egypt, which is now being loaded on a ship and will reach here in four to six weeks.

    It will be distributed to the buyers in southern Ontario and Cleveland.

    Nicholson and Giles were anxious that the salt be shipped by Thanksgiving to ensure it arrived here in time for winter.

    It takes weeks for an ocean liner to make it to Montreal, where the supply is split into lake vessels to make it through the canals to the Great Lakes to be distributed to the contractors.

    Clintar’s Markham franchise only has two storms worth of salt at a nearby Scarborough depot to service local customers.

    “There’s only so much salt we can get. There’s a point where we can’t get anymore,” Nicholson said.

    “The government takes care of roads. That’s it. Every other piece of asphalt is taken care by contractors. Contractors use more salt than the roads departments would use because there is more asphalt and we hold all the liability. So, we have to salt them because if people slip and fall and get hurt, we get sued.”

    A “triple whammy” has led to the drastic salt shortage, Giles said.

    An excessive winter in some locations, followed by ice storms last April depleted reserves.

    Meanwhile, of the three salt mines that serve the Great Lakes Basin, a huge area including Ontario, Illinois, Michigan, New York and Ohio, which consumes thousands of tonnes of road salt a year, the one in Goderich endured an 11-week strike that ended in July and the one in Cleveland is flooded.

    “We don’t know (how much salt will be available for contractors), but when two of the three suppliers are saying zero, we’re starting behind the eight ball,” Nicholson said.  

    Giles called the shortage “a huge deal.”

    “If our industry contractors are being cut off and not allowed to put salt down, it obviously becomes a safety hazard or safety concern for all the shopping malls and hospitals and plazas that we service,” he said.

    “It could potentially become ice-covered, we could have some serious issues. It becomes a health and safety concern, a public safety concern.”

    For customers lucky to have contractors who secure salt, they will be facing a significant increase in cost, Giles said.

    Meanwhile, desperate contractors may resort to buying bagged salt from stores, meaning residents will have a difficult time finding salt for their driveways and walkways, he said.

    Adding to contractors’ headaches, customers refuse to allow them to use sand instead of salt because they complain its gets tracked into carpets and clogs up catch basins, Nicholson said.

    While contractors are stressed about the lack of salt, the environment is poised to benefit.

    “Winter road salt, which contains chloride, has become an environmental issue of great concern in this watershed and beyond,” according to the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority.

    “In short, we're applying too much, chloride concentrations are steadily increasing and it's having negative environmental consequences. Our monitoring activities have identified a disturbing increase in salt in our rivers and streams and Lake Simcoe itself.

    Chloride is highly soluble, meaning once it dissolves in water, there’s no way of getting it out of lakes and rivers, the authority said.

     “And our plants and animals are accustomed to fresh water. So, the increasing salt concentrations are hurting them,” its website said.

    “So, we need to address the issue by trying to reduce the amount of salt we use since it's really our only option. If we don't, salt is poised to overtake phosphorus as the biggest issue in the watershed.”



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