How a fleet of road sweepers remove sand from Sudbury roads each spring

Every spring, a fleet of street sweepers patrol Greater Sudbury’s roads to remove the salt and sand that accumulates over the long winter.

Northern Ontario city spent $1.77M in 2021 to sweep sand and salt from roads

Mike Popowich has been an equipment operator with Greater Sudbury for 12 years, and says it's a team effort to clear the streets of sand and salt each spring. (Jan Lakes/CBC)

Every spring a fleet of street sweepers patrol Greater Sudbury's roads to remove the salt and sand that accumulated over the long winter.

Last year, the city spent $1.77 million to clear the extensive road network from road sand and salt ahead of the summer.

Kerry Lokan, the city's manager for street sweeping, said 2022 looks to be a typical year, and should be on par with what was spent in 2021.

The money covers 26 road sweepers, 11 sidewalk sweepers and eight water trucks that a group of 45 city staff and contractors operate. 

Lokan said the Ramsey Lake watershed and areas with high pedestrian traffic are the top priorities for street sweeping once the snow melts. But she added the city tries to vary which outlying areas it covers each day to provide a consistent level of service.

"The process is that we send out a water truck and they spread a layer of water to try to keep the dust down," she said. "And then we send out our street sweepers."

Kerry Lokan, the City of Greater Sudbury's manager for street sweeping, says 2022 looks to be a typical year in terms of spending to clear the extensive road network from road sand and salt, and should be on par with 2021. (Jan Lakes/CBC)

The city has three primary depots where the trucks deposit their loads of salt and sand. That material is then used to cover waste in the city's landfill.

"At the end of the day, when they've finished placing the waste, they're required to cover that waste with a granular material," Lokan said. "So this helps offset some of the city's costs."

Lokan added it would be cost-prohibitive to filter the salt and sand for use next winter. 

Mike Popowich, an equipment operator with the city for 12 years, said he enjoys the work during street sweeping season.

"It's satisfying once you get a street fully swept," he said. "Going to a street that's full of sand and seeing it all cleaned up, and people enjoying it, yeah it is."

He said it takes a full team of people to clear the streets each spring.

With files from Jan Lakes


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