County council seeking alternatives to road salt
By Chad Ingram
Published March 7, 2019
Given the continuing cost increase of road salt, Haliburton County councillors wondered during a Feb. 27 meeting if there were any viable alternatives.
A report from public works director Craig Douglas recommended a renewal of a contract with K & S Windsor Salt Company for the provision of untreated road salt, “the idea being to lock in prices for next winter,” Douglas told councillors.
As the report from Douglas indicated, in 2015 council approved the supply and delivery of salt from the company through a multi-agency tender request with the County of Peterborough and nine other agencies. The tender was for a three-year term, with the option for two additional years if service was satisfactory, making 2019/2020 the final year of five.
“Staff have been very pleased with the product of untreated road salt for the past four years and, along with the others in the multi-agency contract, wish to extend the contract for a further and final year,” the report read.
The 2019 cost will be up 2.5 per cent from 2018, an increase from $78.09 per tonne to $80.04, meaning an overall increase of $16,000 the county will pay for road salt. Road salt constitutes 85 per cent of the winter maintenance material line in the budget. For 2019, there is $750,000 budgeted for materials and supplies for snowplowing and removal, meaning approximately $630,000 is allotted specifically for the purchase of salt.
“What I would like to add, is there is uncertainty in terms of salt [supply],” Douglas told councillors.
“On that note, if it’s clear as we go forward that this [the price] may escalate that if we could get on with the next contract, sooner than later . . . it would be better to do that as soon as possible, if there’s a fear of huge upswing in salt,” said Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin.
“There’s not a lot of salt suppliers out there, either,” Douglas said.
Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt wondered at what point, given price escalation and the availability of salt, the county might start considering alternatives.
“For sure, we’re caught between minimum maintenance standards and salt prices,” Douglas said. “ . . . There are no current, economically viable solutions in my mind.”
Devolin said he asks the Minden Hills roads superintendent every year about alternatives to salt, says the answer is always discouraging and that even through the Ontario Good Roads Association, there don’t seem to be any viable alternatives on the horizon.
The county will renew the contract for the upcoming year.