British Columbia

Free salt, sand, once again on offer from City of Vancouver

With snow in the forecast again for Saturday night, the City of Vancouver says it will once again have free salt and sand on offer for free Sunday morning.

Previous distributions have been snapped up quickly by residents desperate to improve conditions

The City of Vancouver has been offering free salt and sand, twice daily since Wednesday Jan. 4, 2016 to help residents deal with icy sidewalks and streets. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

With snow in the forecast again for Saturday night, the City of Vancouver says it will once again have free salt and sand on offer Sunday morning at 10 Vancouver Fire and Rescue halls.

The city also provided free salt and sand on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday — twice daily —but those supplies were quickly snapped up.

Icy streets and sidewalks have made life miserable for pedestrians and drivers due to an unusual cold snap that has gripped Vancouver for almost a month

"We have been monitoring uptake, line-ups and there are some halls with more demand so in those cases either more material was delivered or we did a third drop off," said a city spokesperson in an email.

On Saturday, Environment Canada issued a special weather statement for Metro Vancouver, which says a "weak Pacific system will bring a band of light snow tonight and produce a couple of centimetres of accumulation by Sunday morning."

Meanwhile Vancouver city councillor George Affleck is calling for an independent investigation into the city's snow removal plans.

Affleck says too many people have been trapped in their homes due to icy sidewalks and streets, and garbage and recycling has been left uncollected for weeks in some neighbourhoods.

On its website, the City of Vancouver says more than 260 staff have been redeployed from other projects to help with snow removal and 150 additional staff have been brought on to salt and sand residential streets.

Up until the end of 2016, it spent $2.5 million on snow and ice mitigation and so far used between 6,500-7,000 tonnes of salt, triple the amount used in the last two winter periods combined.

In Surrey, officials say more than 12,000 tonnes of salt has been spread on streets since early December. Surrey still has 7,000 tonnes of salt in reserve and is mixing that with sand.

"We're blending material now," said operations manager Rob Costanzo. "We've have been doing so since before Christmas. In a typical snow year we'll just use straight salt and that's easier because it really reduces the impact of clean up costs."

In a typical year, Surrey uses about 4,000 tonnes of salt for de-icing, while in the big snowstorm of 2008-2009, the city used about 14,000 tonnes.

In Vancouver, residents will be limited to one bucket of salt each and must bring their own containers to the free salt and sand pick-ups.