PEI

44,000 tonnes of road salt to be stored at Summerside waterfront

The Prince Edward Island government and Port of Summerside are planning to store thousands of tonnes of road salt on the city's waterfront — and some local residents are not happy about the decision.

'I was in disbelief really and just thought that there was no possible way there was any truth to it'

Cement blocks more than six feet high outline where an entire year's worth of road salt will be stored in Summerside. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

The Prince Edward Island government and Port of Summerside are planning to store thousands of tonnes of road salt on the city's waterfront — and some local residents are not happy about the decision.

About 44,000 tonnes of road salt are expected to arrive in Summerside early next month. It will be stored in a makeshift storage depot and eventually be spread in the winter on the province's roads, and streets in Charlottetown and Summerside.

"I was in disbelief really and just thought that there was no possible way there was any truth to it," said Cory Snow, a Summerside councillor. 

Snow said neither the province nor the port consulted with Summerside council about where the salt would be stored.

Potential risks, councillor says

The P.E.I. government said its supplier of road salt in Nova Scotia, Windsor Salt, had warned about potential "operational issues" this year. There was no guarantee the company would be able to make its usual monthly truck deliveries to the Island this winter.

Cory Snow, a Summerside councillor, says there are environmental concerns with placing road salt close to the water. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

So, the Port of Summerside struck a deal with Windsor Salt to bring in two large shiploads of salt this year. The provincial government is only responsible for transporting the road salt from the site to different depots across the province, said Stephen Szwarc, P.E.I.'s director of highway maintenance.

"I'm quite happy to hear that we're able to work to some sort of agreement to ensure that we do have the salt that we need," said Szwarc.

There is a number of shellfishers that use [Bedeque Bay] for their livelihoods.— Cory Snow, Summerside councillor

Snow said the salt doesn't belong on the waterfront. He said Summerside residents have told him the storage facility will take away from the picturesque view of the harbour. Snow is also concerned about possible health and safety risks of where the salt is being placed. 

"You're storing 88 million pounds or 44,000 tonnes of salt on the boardwalk just feet away from the Bedeque Bay where there is a number of shellfishers that use that for their livelihoods and the environmental risks that might associate with runoff." 

The city met with provincial officials on Wednesday to discuss the issue, but no changes to the situation have yet been decided. 

'Tough situation'

Szwarc said the province is willing to have a discussion about moving the salt if there's "a big outcry." He also said the road salt will only be at the Summerside waterfront for one year. After that, the province will return to normal operations. 

Stephen Szwarc, P.E.I.'s director of highway maintenance, says the provincial government is open to discussing other storage possibilities for the road salt. (Wayne Thibodeau/CBC)

The Port of Summerside would not agree to an interview, but CEO Arnold Croken did tell CBC News that the port did not expect the backlash. Croken said the port is now in a "tough situation."

Meanwhile, Snow said Summerside council hopes it can convince the province and the port to move the storage facility before the road salt arrives. It's also reaching out to legal counsel just in case that doesn't happen.

In an email statement to CBC News, Windsor Salt said it could not provide specific details about the situation due to proprietary reasons.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Wayne Thibodeau

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