Edmonton

Edmonton ditches calcium chloride as anti-icing agent for this winter at least

The City of Edmonton will not use calcium chloride to keep streets free of snow and ice this winter, council decided Tuesday. 

'Constituents have said it; industry has said it; and now finally council...has said it. Get it off our roads'

The city used a variety of methods to clear snow and ice over the past three seasons, including the controversial anti-icing agent calcium chloride. (CBC)

The City of Edmonton will not use calcium chloride to clear snow and ice from main streets this winter, council decided in a tight 7-6 vote Tuesday. 

Coun. Andrew Knack raised the motion and councillors Moe Banga, Jon Dziadyk, Bev Esslinger, Tim Cartmell, Aaron Paquette, Mike Nickel supported the move. 

Nickel referred to the debate as an "utter distraction," saying he's dubious of the effectiveness of calcium chloride. 

Nickel said he's heard from the construction industry, engineers and the public.

"Besides this being one of the ridiculous political pretzels I've ever been a part of. The constituents have said it; industry has said it; and now finally council, only temporarily, has said it. Get it off our roads." 

When Knack introduced the motion last week, Gord Cebryk, deputy manager of city operations, said keeping streets ice free without calcium chloride could cost the city a extra $37 million this winter.

"I think that number is bunk," Nickel said. "People shouldn't throw out those kinds of numbers recklessly." 

Cartmell and Nickel suggested the city return to the methods used before calcium chloride. 

Coun. Michael Walters referred to the drawn-out debate as a result of policy communicated poorly to the public from the beginning. 

"It's an embarrassing runaway from this council," Walters said. "We do need a reset."

The use of calcium chloride has been controversial since the city started a pilot project in 2016. Engineers and residents claimed they noticed more rust and damage to vehicles and garages. 

The city has said collisions have dropped 20 per cent since it started using the brine. 

Coun. Ben Henderson voted against the motion, suggesting calcium chloride was a useful tool. 

"People have always complained no matter what we've done," Henderson said.

The city still plans to use calcium chloride on sidewalks and bike lanes this winter.

Knack's motion also directs administration to report back in June 2020 with suggestions of how to clear streets to bare pavement without the use of salt, sand and calcium chloride.

@natashariebe

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