Oct 8, 2019

Update: Cloudy With No Chance of Calcium Chloride


Today, City Council voted “no” to using calcium chloride during the 2019/2020 season. The vote was 7-6. I was one of the 7 that voted to cancel the use of calcium chloride because I heard undeniable stories and messages from my constituents. Stories of rust and damaged driveways, stories of damaged property and more potholes – I could not vote for the use of calcium chloride when my constituents were so concerned about how it is impacting our communities. This winter we will use different tools and in June 2019, City Council will review other snow and ice management options.


Cold Reviews for City’s Anti-Icing Pilot

It’s clear the City’s anti-icing pilot program that switched from traditional sodium chloride (salt) to a liquid calcium chloride solution has been much more of a controversial and costly experiment than the city ever expected. They say they’ve made some changes to the mix that should make it more effective, but I’m hearing from residents that they just don’t want it. At the very least, before we do anything, let’s make sure we understand and are honest about the actual costs.We have to remember that if cost savings to the City get passed onto residents in the form of vehicle corrosion, it’s not savings at all. It’s a huge increase that’s heaped onto residents. If we consider that it affects both heavy haul and city vehicles too, we’re looking at a net loss far beyond any purported “savings”.The liquid solution is supposed to work by preventing snow from sticking to the pavement, making it easier and faster to clear the snow once it falls, which should reduce the need for sanding. Ideally, road surfaces treated before a snowfall have improved friction and lower stopping distances, which should mean fewer collisions. But the evidence of this is yet to come.The supposed major benefits of the pilot program (increased safety and decreased cost because less sand has to be used) seem to be heavily outweighed by serious concerns about the potential long-term effects to infrastructure, mainly vehicles. Drivers and cyclists are saying that, despite the inhibitor, they’re seeing unprecedented amounts of corrosion on their vehicles and bikes. The calcium chloride solution keeps snow melted, so liquid seeps in between parts that regular salt wouldn’t have gotten into before. We’re also not seeing strong evidence that the CaCl solution actually helps reduce collisions on the roads. The stats just aren’t showing a compelling case that it’s working as intended.The City’s administration is saying another year of the pilot is necessary to gather the data needed to further evaluate effectiveness. Is it worth it? I’m hearing from residents that the answer is no.