Williams Lake is exploring the idea no longer using salt on roads during its regular winter maintenance. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Williams Lake considering salt-free winter road maintenance

Council and staff debated salt usage at a recent committee of the whole meeting

Williams Lake city council is considering taking salt off the table for use in its winter road maintenance.

During the committee of the whole meeting Tuesday, the city’s director of municipal services Gary Muraca said the City used 1,400 metric tons of salt last year and is regulated federally to monitor its salt use.

“We have to file reports every year on salt use so we have reduced the amount we use and try not to go over certain areas twice,” Muraca said.

The expectation in Williams Lake is for bare roads and that cannot be achieve without the use of salt, or chemicals, he added.

“We have pretty high expectations for our roads, compared to other northern communities, even some southern communities. Quesnel doesn’t use salt,” he added.

Coun. Scott Nelson said he’d like to see the City weaned off salt, and suggested adopting a plan that would see the city no longer using salt in five years.

“We could do a gradual decline as a policy initiative and then an environmental statement. A number of our outfalls go into the lake and if salt is put on the road [it will end up in the lake].”

Mayor Walt Cobb agreed.

“It’s the environmental impact and the fact the salt melts the snow and ice, it becomes water, gets in cracks in the roads, then it gets cold, freezes and all of a sudden we’ve got a bunch of potholes,” Cobb said.

Coun. Ivan Bonnell said there are many grades in around town where it’s difficult to stop in the winter.

“Sand won’t take ice away, salt will. You come down some grades and you cannot stop,” Bonnell said.

Coun. Jason Ryll chairs the public works committee and said at this point staff and council are only gathering information.


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