October 20, 2004

York Region to manage salt use on Regional roads

NEWMARKET – York Region’s Roads Transportation Branch will continue to minimize salt use on Regional roads this winter through the introduction of a new Salt Management Program.
In 2001, Environment Canada identified road salt as a risk to wildlife, local ecosystems and groundwater.  Accordingly, the Federal Government has asked municipalities to initiate salt management plans to reduce its use on roadways.
“Regional staff have worked diligently over the past few years to cut down on the amount of road salt needed for winter maintenance,” said Regional Chair and CEO Bill Fisch.  “It’s a delicate balance between environmental protection and road safety, but York Region’s Salt Management Program will successfully accommodate both interests.”
York Region has over 1,000 kilometres of paved arterial roads and a policy to clear snow and ice down to the pavement level as part of its winter maintenance program.  While the Region uses plowing to remove much of the snow that accumulates on roads, salt is still the preferred option for de-icing.
In 2002, the Region examined alternative technologies to its reliance on salt, and launched a pilot project to apply a salt-brine solution to roads before snowstorms.  The use of salt-brine has shown to reduce reliance on salt, while maintaining high road safety standards.  It was adopted as part of the winter maintenance program in 2003.
As part of its Winter Maintenance program, the Region has also adopted:
• A Road Weather Information System (RWIS), consisting of five weather stations in key parts of the Region, to update temperature, pavement condition, salt concentration and precipitation.
• A Global Positioning System (GPS) to monitor road coverage by vehicles and track the application rate of both salt and sand.
• Drive-through salt and sand storage sheds to reduce the amount of these materials exposed to the environment.
• Spreader controls on vehicles to more precisely spread both sand and salt.

“Our Roads Transportation branch deserves a lot of credit in making these moves to reduce the amount of salt needed for winter maintenance and safety,” said Richmond Hill Mayor Bill Bell, Chair of the Region’s Transportation and Works Committee.  “This systematic approach to monitoring salt use will undoubtedly reduce negative impacts to our environment.”
York Region is constantly upgrading its maintenance programs to increase efficiency and reduce environmental impacts.  As part of this upgrading process, the Region will also be considering the use of pre-treated road salts with the addition of calcium chloride or magnesium chloride in the future, in an effort to decrease reliance on the road salt currently in use.
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, the services we offer and links to our nine area municipalities, please visit our Web site at: www.york.ca

Contact:   Michael Kemp, Corporate Communications, York Region
- (905) 830-4444 or 1-877-464-9675, ext. 1232
- Email: michael.kemp@york.ca

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