Back in the day, you could always tell if an older car was from Ontario because it would be riddled with rust.
The impact on our vehicles of using salt to de-ice roads is what we used to be concerned about.
These days, of course, it is the environmental impact.
Primarily, it can damage sensitive ecosystems if used excessively.
While we applaud the interior for not routinely using salt on the roads up here, something has to be done to keep the highways safe for motorists.
Highway 5 is the lifeline for this region. It’s how goods move around and how people access services that aren’t available in their home communities.
It’s also the way families and friends stay connected.
For most of the winter, plowing and sanding are adequate, but when we get the kind of persistent weather we have seen recently, the road conditions become deplorable as they have been.
We are not advocating for continual use of salt, but perhaps we should be considering judicious and intermittent use or other strategies when conditions warrant.
There are ways to limit the environmental impact of salt.
For example, using biodegradable beet juice as an additive helps salt cling to the roads reducing excess runoff.
If applied in advance of storms, it can even stop compact snow and ice from forming in the first place.
It also further lowers the freezing point of water, allowing for its use during more extreme cold conditions as we saw over the holiday period.
This method is being used in many Canadian cities, including Williams Lake.
It is also not without its drawbacks, however, including being more expensive.
Also, the sugars in the juice, when they make their way into the environment, can cause unwanted bacterial growth.
There are many factors to be considered, but at the very least, we need to be looking for new ways to keep the roads clear, because what we are currently doing just isn’t cutting it.