British Columbia

Surrey mixing salt with sand to extend de-icing stock

After using more than 12,000 tonnes of salt for de-icing since early December, the City of Surrey, B.C., still has 7,000 tonnes of salt left. But to make sure that supply lasts the season, the city is blending it with sand.

Operations manager says city 'didn't want to take any chances' with remaining 7,000 tonnes of salt

After a blast of winter weather, B.C.’s Lower Mainland ran low on salt as cities worked to keep streets from getting too slippery. (Lisa Johnson/CBC)

The City of Surrey, B.C., is choosing to err on the side of caution by mixing its salt supply with sand to ensure the supply lasts the entirety of this unusually cold Lower Mainland winter.

"This year, given that there's significant delays in salt supply to the region, we didn't want to take any chances," said the city's operations manager Rob Costanzo.

He said the city still has 7,000 tonnes of salt left — which is more than the 4,000 tonnes it uses in a typical year.

But, since the city has already used 12,000 tonnes of salt since early December, crews began blending the salt with sand before Christmas to make sure it lasts the winter season, Costanzo said.

"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," he said.

Costanza said the city is on track to exceed the approximately 14,000 tonnes of salt it used during the big snowstorm of 2008-2009.

A number of municipalities in the Lower Mainland have been running low on road salt.

Cities like Port Moody have resorted to having salt brought from Saskatchewan, and when the City of Vancouver offered free salt for residents at local fire halls the supply ran out within minutes. 

With files from Jesse Johnston