News

The opinions expressed in our new items and other published works are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart About Salt Council (referred to as SASC) or its Directors, Officers, Volunteer, agents or staff.

All rights reserved. No part of any SASC published work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher.

Information contained in our published works have been obtained by SASC from sources believed to be reliable. However, neither SASC nor its authors guarantees the accuracy or completeness of any information published herein and neither SASC nor its authors shall be responsible for any errors, omissions, or claims for damages, including exemplary damages, arising out of use, inability to use, or with regard to the accuracy or sufficiency of the information contained in SASC publications.


<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 
  • 26 Aug 2021 10:02 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Private snow removal costs to spike as insurance costs skyrocket | Calgary Herald

    Snow removal contractors are being bulldozed by ballooning insurance rates, which could render their services unaffordable to many clients, says a local operator.

    “Everybody’s insurance across Canada is going up because of the slip and fall claims . . . we’re all in the same boat,” said Jorgenson, who said he’s contacted dozens of operators.

    “Some insurers won’t provide any insurance at all.”

    An insurer who normally charged his landscaping company a premium of $7,800 is now quoting rates of $50,000 to $65,000 for the same coverage, he said.

    That will likely lead his company to pass on the increased costs by charging 20 per cent more to commercial customers, but those who’ll most sharply feel the effect of the hike will be residential clients, said Jorgenson.

    “We’re a necessary business — there are seniors and those with disabilities who are incapable of removing snow,” he said.

    The higher insurance costs could put many firms out of business and lead others to operate without insurance, “which would be suicidal,” said Jorgenson.

    “I’m not going to risk 15 years of investment in my business by not being insured.”

    But he said the soaring rates could lead to thousands of layoffs in the sector, adding snow clearing comprises a third of his company’s revenues.

    It could leave residential, commercial and institutional customers scrambling to find service, Jorgenson added.

    “The gap can’t be filled by the big operators out there. They just don’t have the resources to ramp up that fast,” he said.

    Commercial liability coverage claims that include ice-slipping incidents increased by 108 per cent between 2013 and 2020 in Canada — going from $2.4 billion to $5.1 billion, said Rob de Pruis, director of community and industry relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

    “Premiums are a reflection of the risks these organizations are facing, and we have to consider the claims costs,” said de Pruis.

    The level of premiums would be determined partly by a company’s claims history, said de Pruis, though Jorgenson said his firm was only involved in one such case, four years ago, and was found not at fault.

    It’s unclear why so many more claims are being made by people insisting they’ve been injured, he said, but those liability costs are being increasingly shared by property owners with those who clear snow for them.

    Fraud is a definite element in those claims totals, but because it usually takes so long for them to come to insurers’ attention — three years in some cases — it’s difficult to prove bogus complaints, said de Pruis.

    “Insurance companies and investigators don’t have the most updated or relevant information,” he said.

    And he said insurers aren’t likely to contest a claim if the legal costs exceed the sums being demanded by the complainant.

    At the prospect some landscaping firms could be priced out of the insurance market, de Pruis said there are ways for them to reduce premiums, such as improved training and using before-and-after photo or video evidence of their work.

    Those contractors, he said, can also shop around for better quotes.

    “In Alberta, there are over 60 insurance companies offering commercial liability coverage,” he said.

    Jorgenson said snow removal operators are being unfairly tagged with negligence, adding provincial government policy such as limits to such legal action and caps on liability premiums should be considered.

    “This is about policy created by insurance companies and poor legislation,” he said.

    In 2019 the UCP government eliminated a five per cent increase cap on automobile insurance rates, which then rose considerably.

    Last October, the province announced it was taking legislative steps to address those affordability issues.

    Municipalities are among the larger institutional customers that supplement their own snow clearing efforts with outside contractors.

    A City of Calgary spokesperson said they haven’t heard any concerns from their snow plow contractors, whose multi-year agreements might protect them from the effect of lawsuits.

  • 25 Aug 2021 7:09 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    ROGER TAYLOR: Locked in labour negotiations, Pugwash salt miners oppose company contingency plan | SaltWire

    The 140 unionized workers at the Windsor Salt mine in Pugwash could be facing a lockout or strike if the company’s offer is rejected in a membership vote next week.

    “One of the big (sticking points) is retro pay. . . . Another one would be the pension,” says Unifor Local 823 president Mark Sheffar.

    “We’ve been out of a contract since October 2020 and, you know, they really haven’t shown a whole lot of interest in bargaining,” Sheffar said in an interview.

    “We sat down a couple times and they really don’t seem interested in bargaining at all.”

    In an email, Windsor Salt indicated it “is committed to building productive working relationships with our employees and partners. We have presented an offer we believe is fair, comprehensive and competitive, and serves both operational and employee needs at our Pugwash mine. We look forward to an upcoming employee vote on the matter.”

    However, Sheffar said, he has concerns about what the company is proposing, therefore neither he nor the bargaining committee will be supporting the company’s offer when it comes to a vote Aug. 26.

    This is the first contract negotiation between the union and the new owner of the mine, California’s Stone Canyon Industries Holdings Inc., which acquired the Pugwash operation in April as part of a US$3.2-billion acquisition of the North American assets held by K+S Aktiengesellschaft AG, based in Kassel, Germany.

    All of the K+S facilities in Canada were under the Windsor Salt umbrella, which in turn was under Morton Salt management in the U.S. Both are now owned by SCI Salt, which has an operating arm, the Kissner Group, based in Overland Park, Kansas.

    Kissner Group was acquired by Stone Canyon in 2014 and, combined with the more recent K+S purchase, it has become the largest salt company in the world outside China, according to Sheffar.

    “There’s language they’re trying to introduce dealing with work hours, and I speak to all the union presidents at the different (Kissner) facilities throughout North America and we know for a fact that they came into most of the facilities and really shaken up their hours and things like that,” he said.

    “So, the language they’re trying to introduce (in the contract) is quite detrimental.

    “We’re not opposed to change but you know there’s just a whole lot of little issues that have accumulated over the last few years. They just don’t want to deal with any of the issues and we really want to deal with the issues.”

    Winter safety

    The union has raised the alarm about the possibility of a shortage of road salt this winter if there is a lockout or strike. The union boss said the membership has not yet officially discussed the possibility of a strike to any great extent.

    “A month or so ago, (the company) sent a letter saying they were going to enact their contingency plan,” Sheffar said.

    “What they did was stockpile 40,000 tonnes of salt to Summerside, P.E.I., and, I don’t know the exact number, but they brought in between 50,000 to 100,000 tonnes to Halifax. It’s sitting under the MacKay Bridge.”

    The company stated in its email: “We have well-defined contingency plans in place to ensure the region has the de-icing salt needed to keep the roads in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island safe throughout the winter months. These plans leverage our broader North American production network, giving us the flexibility to adjust our production and distribution processes as appropriate.”

    That salt was from another Windsor Salt operation, Mines Seleine, located on Grosse-Ile in the Magdalen Islands, Sheffar said.

    “What they’ve done was they’ve put a whole large portion of us out of work because they’re not going to need us to mine that salt now.”

    Scheduling

    The most recent development, he said, was a phone call on Monday to workers who were set to return to work Sept. 12. The call was to inform them the company wanted them back Aug. 30.

    Most of the workforce has been on employment insurance due to the mild winter, and on July 1 there was another round of layoffs during the replacement of the mine’s headframe. The headframe is a large structure that mine elevators ride up and down in.

    “That needed to be done, so they laid everybody off with the intention of bringing them back on Sept. 12. We informed them last week that we wouldn’t be having our vote . . . until Aug. 26. We were subsequently given a letter saying, ‘OK, we’ll be ready with the ratification documents.’ With the assumption that the vote is going to be in the affirmative,” said Sheffar.

    “I think they’re going to lock us out. Either way, it accomplishes the same thing. We’re not going to be working and by bringing in all that salt, they’ve essentially put a lot of people out of work.”

    The union will be contacting the new Nova Scotia government to ask it to not allow salt mined in another province to be used as a bargaining chip to put local miners out of work.

    “The salt is usually trucked by local truckers to New Brunswick, to P.E.I., to all the (Transportation Department) sheds all over Nova Scotia,” said Sheffar.

    “And so all that trucking, or a significant portion of it, is going to go away.”



  • 16 Aug 2021 8:05 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Looming strike at Canadian Salt could disrupt Maritime's winter supply (newswire.ca)

    PUGWASH, NS, Aug. 13, 2021 /CNW/ - Canadian Salt's refusal to negotiate a fair collective agreement with Unifor Local 823 could force a strike at a major road salt supplier in the Maritimes.

    "Unifor members at Canadian Salt are a vital part of the success of the company, and the next collective agreement must reflect that," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "We encourage the company to find a path to a fair agreement before the union is forced to escalate."

    The 150 workers at Canadian Salt, owned by the American corporation Stone Canyon, are in a legal strike position. The current collective agreement expired in October 2020 and negotiations have been ongoing but have recently reached an impasse.

    The latest offer from the company will be voted on August 26, but the Local 823 bargaining committee will not be recommending ratification.

    "We are prepared to bargain around the clock but the company must be a willing partner in negotiations," said Mark Sheffar, president of Unifor Local 823. "Our members are prepared to take the next step to increase pressure on Canadian Salt to make a fair offer."

    Media reports show that many jurisdictions are already preparing to source alternative suppliers for road salt.

    Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

  • 13 Aug 2021 10:53 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    44,000 tonnes of road salt to be stored at Summerside waterfront | CBC News

    The Prince Edward Island government and Port of Summerside are planning to store thousands of tonnes of road salt on the city's waterfront — and some local residents are not happy about the decision.

    About 44,000 tonnes of road salt are expected to arrive in Summerside early next month. It will be stored in a makeshift storage depot and eventually be spread in the winter on the province's roads, and streets in Charlottetown and Summerside.

    "I was in disbelief really and just thought that there was no possible way there was any truth to it," said Cory Snow, a Summerside councillor. 

    Snow said neither the province nor the port consulted with Summerside council about where the salt would be stored.

    Potential risks, councillor says

    The P.E.I. government said its supplier of road salt in Nova Scotia, Windsor Salt, had warned about potential "operational issues" this year. There was no guarantee the company would be able to make its usual monthly truck deliveries to the Island this winter.

    So, the Port of Summerside struck a deal with Windsor Salt to bring in two large shiploads of salt this year. The provincial government is only responsible for transporting the road salt from the site to different depots across the province, said Stephen Szwarc, P.E.I.'s director of highway maintenance.

    "I'm quite happy to hear that we're able to work to some sort of agreement to ensure that we do have the salt that we need," said Szwarc.

    Snow said the salt doesn't belong on the waterfront. He said Summerside residents have told him the storage facility will take away from the picturesque view of the harbour. Snow is also concerned about possible health and safety risks of where the salt is being placed. 

    "You're storing 88 million pounds or 44,000 tonnes of salt on the boardwalk just feet away from the Bedeque Bay where there is a number of shellfishers that use that for their livelihoods and the environmental risks that might associate with runoff." 

    The city met with provincial officials on Wednesday to discuss the issue, but no changes to the situation have yet been decided. 

    'Tough situation'

    Szwarc said the province is willing to have a discussion about moving the salt if there's "a big outcry." He also said the road salt will only be at the Summerside waterfront for one year. After that, the province will return to normal operations. 

    The Port of Summerside would not agree to an interview, but CEO Arnold Croken did tell CBC News that the port did not expect the backlash. Croken said the port is now in a "tough situation."

    Meanwhile, Snow said Summerside council hopes it can convince the province and the port to move the storage facility before the road salt arrives. It's also reaching out to legal counsel just in case that doesn't happen.

    In an email statement to CBC News, Windsor Salt said it could not provide specific details about the situation due to proprietary reasons.

  • 26 Jul 2021 9:46 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Red Moon wants to break into the North American salt market - MINING.COM

    Red Moon Resources (TSXV: RMK) says it wants to break into the North American salt market to reduce imports of the mineral, essential to de-ice roads during the winter.

    At present, Canada and the United States import between seven and 10 million tonnes of road salt per year, mainly from Chile, Egypt and Morocco, out of a total annual market of approximately 25 million tonnes. This means that up to 40% of the mineral is imported.

    Even Red Moon’s home province, Newfoundland and Labrador, imports from neighbouring Quebec the 300,000 tonnes of road salt it uses every year. 

    “In terms of the security of supply, keep in mind that no new underground salt mines have been built in the last 20 years in Canada and the US, due in part to the fact there are very few ideal locations. Some of the current mines are running into aging issues, and shipping costs from overseas have jumped considerably just in recent months,” Red Moon’s president, Rowland Howe, told MINING.COM.

    According to Howe, these local supply shortages combined with the fact that efficient salt mines are known to be dynamic long-term generators of free cash flow, is what drew Red Moon to the Great Atlantic south deposit.

    Located near the Turf Point Port in western Newfoundland, the deposit was initially discovered through oil and gas exploration. It is considered one of North America’s largest shallow salt deposits and it is immediately adjacent to the Flat Bay gypsum deposit, whose mines produced a reported 15 million tonnes from the 1950s until production ceased in 1990.

    Great Atlantic hosts approximately 1.4 billion tonnes grading 95.6% NaCl, while resource modelling based on previous drilling indicates continuity of the salt resource with average thickness of 200 metres to 250 metres.

    “The significance of this salt deposit – the tonnage (>1 billion tonnes), the relative shallowness of it, the high grades (>95%), and its strategic location next to important infrastructure including a deep water port, was quickly understood,” Howe said. “Red Moon is the only company with a major undeveloped salt deposit.”

    Environmentally friendly

    According to Howe, the goal is to build an environmentally friendly, low-cost operation and the first new salt “factory” in Atlantic Canada in 60 years. The plan is to employ simple physical processing – mine, crush, screen, and load. 

    The project has a bankable feasibility study that includes near-term additional drilling which will determine whether the most effective mining method would be ramp/decline or shaft.  A complete feasibility study is currently being carried out by SLR Consulting (Canada).

    “Salt has many uses in today’s society as well as being one of life’s essential minerals,” the executive said. “The most promising immediate market for salt produced from the Great Atlantic deposit is for road de-icing, but longer-term secondary uses – the chemical industry, for example, requires high-grade salt – would likely emerge.” 

    Howe, who joined Red Moon earlier this year after a decade running Compass Minerals’ Goderich salt mine in southern Ontario, said the development of Great Atlantic not only offers the possibility of supplying the local market, it would also help reduce overseas imports and, thus, aid the effort to cut global carbon emissions.  

  • 20 Jul 2021 1:53 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Salt for sore eyes: St. John's harbour salt pile blocks some of the best views | CBC News

    Matt Idnurm likes to spend the early summer months watching the marine life off St. John's harbour from his first-floor balcony on Water Street downtown.

    "I sit out here with my binoculars and I watch the whales in the ocean," he said in a recent interview. But this year, he said, "we can't see a bloody thing. All I can see is the black tarp and the tires on it."

    Idnurm is bemoaning a pile of road salt sitting more than two-storeys high and occupying more than a ship's length of prime waterfront in Newfoundland and Labrador's capital city. The pile belongs to A. Harvey & Company Ltd., a local firm specializing in marine shipping -- and salt.

    Each year, the salt is stacked and covered with black tarps to prevent the minerals from flying away. Large, strategically placed tires keep the tarps from flapping in the city's strong winds.

    Normally, Idnurm said, the salt is piled in the fall and the mound is tarped around the time the first snowflakes hit the streets.

    "I put up with it for five or six weeks and I go to Florida."

    But this year, he said, the pile came early.

    Geoff Cunningham, vice-president of operations with A. Harvey & Company, is reluctant to talk about the salt. "It's proprietary information," he said.

    When asked if he gets curious phone calls about it, he was more forthcoming: "Oh God, yes."

    Cunningham said the salt pile acts as a kind of dynamic map of the winter -- like a tarp-covered, view-obstructing weather vane, he said.

    "How's the winter going? Well you can see how the pile is shrinking," he mused.

    Last winter didn't involve as much snow as previous years, leaving a lot of leftover salt, Cunningham said. "Some year there's none by the time April comes."

    The City of St. John's uses about 28,000 tonnes of salt on average from the pile each year, and spokeswoman Susan Bonnell said city hall is peppered with questions about the curious sight on the waterfront each season. And while the salt pile blocks some of the best views in town, Bonnell said that's not what's upsetting people.

     "The complaints, generally speaking, relate to salt debris forming on adjacent dwellings and vehicles during high winds," she said in an email.

    Christina Parker, who owns an art gallery nearby, said the salt heap is the "bane of everyone's existence." Aside from the salt dust blowing around, she said, the monolith is a grim reminder of the winter months ahead. "It's a real downer," she said, laughing.

    Milton Spracklin, owner of United Sail Works, the company that makes the tarps for the salt pile, said all that complaining is "silliness."

    "You do get a bit of dust that blows around, but I'm going to tell you, on a windy day, when the salt water is being blown off the ocean, it's worse than the dust being blown off the pile," he said in an interview Monday.

    Besides, he added, if it weren't for that salt, the steep, slippery winter streets of St. John's would be a mess of backward-sliding cars.

    His company makes two new tarps every year to suit the pile, he said, adding that this year's tarps combined weigh nearly two tonnes and cover an area about 81 metres long and 152 metres wide — nearly the size of three Canadian Coast Guard polar icebreakers lined up side by side.

    The salt comes by ship from the the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

    "The ship hauls up to the side of the wharf, and it has a great big huge conveyor belt, and it dumps the salt right where it's to," Spracklin said. "If they were to truck that salt somewhere else, it would take thousands and thousands of truck loads."

    Back on his balcony, Idnurm said he's not too salty about this year's views, adding that he's not planning to stick around for the winter to reap the benefits and drive on safer St. John's roads.

    "The view's not good this year but most years, it is," he said.


  • 19 Jul 2021 7:31 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Ford issues 3 safety recalls impacting 42,000 vehicles in Canada - National | Globalnews.ca

    Ford Motor Co. has issued three safety recalls affecting 850,000 vehicles in North America, including nearly 42,000 in Canada.

    The largest recall involves 775,000 Explorers, including almost 33,000 in Canada, for model years 2013 to 2017. The SUVs may experience a seized cross-axis ball joint that can significantly reduce steering control and increase the risk of a crash.

    In the U.S., the affected vehicles are located in high-corrosion states with cold winter weather, high humidity and substantial road salt use. Ford says it is aware of six allegations of injury related to this condition in North America.

    The second recall involves 35,000 2020-2021 F-350 Super Duty vehicles (7,300 in Canada) with a 6.7-litre engine and single rear wheel axle that could experience a weld issue.

    Affected vehicles may experience a rear driveline disconnection. Ford says in the event of a disconnected driveshaft, drivers may experience loss of power or loss of the transmission park function if the parking brake is not applied. It says it is not aware of any accidents or injuries related to the condition.

    The third recall for which Ford also says it is not aware of any accidents or injuries involves 41,000 2020-2021 Lincoln Aviators (2,600 in Canada) that are equipped with 3.0-litre gas engines. It says an improperly secured battery cable wire harnesses could result in a short circuit and potential fire.


  • 11 Jul 2021 9:21 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Huron County contracts and tenders for winter road safety (yahoo.com)

    HURON COUNTY – Manager of Public Works Cameron Harper presented the results of tenders for HC 2021-140, the rental and operation of three snowplows with sanding and salting equipment for the Wingham Patrol, and the supply and delivery of alternative non-liquid de-icing materials.

    Huron County council accepted the tender submitted by Joe Kerr Ltd. for HC 2021-140 for a minimum of three winter seasons starting in November 2022 at an estimated total value of $606,326.78 (including applicable net tax) per season, plus a two per cent increase per year beginning Jan. 1, 2024.

    The public works department was authorized to exercise the option of two single-year extensions for the 2025-26 and 2026-27 winter seasons, including at a two per cent increase per calendar year.

    Council awarded Compass Minerals Canada Corp. contract HC 21-54, alternative de-icing materials, for the tendered price of $320,544, including applicable net taxes.

    Steve Lund, county engineer and director of operations, reported to council on the road salt supply.

    Council approved an exemption to the procurement bylaw. Staff was directed to annually negotiate the price for the supply of highway coarse bulk salt with Compass Minerals Canada Corporation for three years from 2021-2024.

    “As a result of a salt tender not accepted by county council in 2015 on staff recommendation, the county has been procuring highway coarse bulk salt from the Compass Minerals Salt Mine in Goderich based on negotiating annual competitive pricing and comparing to other municipalities on an annual basis to ensure Huron County is receiving good value,” stated Lund’s report.

    The department uses approximately 14,600 tonnes of highway coarse bulk salt on an average winter, Lund reported.

    Costs for highway coarse bulk salt over the last five years saw a wide range of variances.

    The price increase on average was held essentially flat before 2016 for a few years. However, recently the price has risen significantly during 2019, which saw a mine strike in Goderich, which affected the price of salt for a couple of years. Since then, the increases have been in stride with the cost of living and inflation for the last two years. County public works surveyed in May 2021 with surrounding counties and found the salt prices delivered for the recent winter season range from a low of $67.75 in Middlesex to a high of $90.82 in Wellington.

    Most of the counties tendered their salt procurement over the last three years. They found higher prices compared to Huron, except for Middlesex County. On this basis, “Huron County Public Works conclude the negotiating strategy is paying off as it minimizes any hedging for unknown labour, equipment, and material costs in years two and three of a supply tender,” Lund’s report said.

    Compass Minerals has treated the county fairly over the years, Lund said, and staff suggest the county maintain this arrangement for another three years. After that, staff will monitor the price year over year. If it follows the cost of living, then Huron County is considered in a competitive pricing arrangement.

    It should be noted the price paid by a county will vary based on volumes used, geographic location, trucking costs based on distance and term (length) of tender.

  • 30 Jun 2021 4:04 PM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Sri Lanka looks to export ‘road salt’ used for de-icing roads in developed countries during winter – The Island

    Lanka Salt Limited in Hambantota has received several inquiries from European countries for Road salt which is commonly used in many countries including Canada, Europe, Japan, China and even South America to melt snow during the winter season.

    “The unpurified rock salt or ‘road salt’ is an affordable and commonly used chemical to de-ice roads in developed countries in the winter. Having identified this opportunity, I spoke to several European Municipal Councils through Lankan embassies and other contacts to explore the market for it which will have a huge business potential for Sri Lanka, Lanka Salt Chairman Nishantha Sandabarana told the Island Financial Review.

    “This will be a new addition to the local export basket which will net over US$ 200 million annual income to Sri Lanka. Salt is used along with another chemical to melt ice in winter seasons and there is large scope for demand for the commodity, he said.

    “To turn the potential into real business, we need to build a Rs. 300 million worth plant and I have found three private companies excited to invest in it as joint venture partners ensuring that Lanka Salt doesn’t need to invest in the infrastucture.” he said

    “Lanka Salt has around 200 acres of salt plains and we have planned a project to solarize the entire Lanka salt facility in Hambantota which will significantly save our monthly electricity bill of Rs. 2.5 million.”

    “Lanka Salt annually spends over Rs. 30 million to cover salt dumps using polythene and cadjan leaves. I planmed to build permanent concrete structures to cover these salt dumps and offer the roof to install solar.”

    He said when these two projects along with other development initiatives were put forward to the Board for approval, EPF which owns a 90 percent stake in Lanka Salt objected to them for reasons best known to them.

    Lanka Salt Ltd, has posted a Rs. 47 million profit in the year 2020 after having suffered Rs. 200 million loss in the year 2019 under the previous regime which was a dramatic turnaround”, the chairman said.

    We are hoping to improve this to around Rs. 70 million by the end of 2021 using several new management tools and cost-cutting measures. To achieve it, we made several viable project proposals in the beginning of last year to increase this profit to a three-figure mark,” Sandabarana said.

    Lanka Salt has nearly 600 unused acres of land stretching up near Yala National Park and is planning to launch a eco-tourism projects soon.

  • 11 Jun 2021 8:09 AM | Smart About Salt (Administrator)

    Winnipeg students hype hemp at city hall hoping to slash salt use on slippery winter roads | CBC News

    It felt like the trio of Westwood Collegiate students had appeared at city hall dozens of times.

    Grade 11 students Jasper Bain, Angela Gamayao, and Megan Morant came to the Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works committee to make the case for mixing salt — with hemp hurd.

    The city is exploring ways to cut its use of road salt as a means of providing traction on slippery winter streets. 

    Inspired by a contest — Caring for our Watersheds — sponsored by agricultural company Nutrien and administered through Ducks Unlimited at Oak Hammock Marsh, the trio started the project as part of their chemistry class.

    With the help of their teacher they began experimenting by mixing salt with locally-gown hemp.

    "Hemp hurd is actually created from the stalk of the hemp plant. So, the stalk is something that is not used for a lot of different things right now. But we think that using it as an aid to salt-based de-icers on the roads could be a really good place that it could be used," Bain said.

    The students found a third of the salt mixed with hemp hurd successfully melted ice nearly as much as salt on its own. 

    The approximately 26,000 tonnes of salt the City of Winnipeg uses to de-ice the streets not only erodes concrete, bridges, vehicles and other infrastructure, but has an ongoing impact on the environment. It leeches into the soil and waterways and harms plants and trees.

    "At the end of the winter season you see all these white marks on the roads and you never really knew what they were from, but that was a result of dried up salt residue on our roads and it really make me think about how much we really are using and the fact that it's everywhere," Gamayao said.

    The three students' project was in the top 10 of 365 written proposals and went on to place second among those finalists, winning $900 for themselves and their school. 

    In the next phase, they can use part of $10,000 provided by Nutrien to find external partners and do further trials of their idea.

    An eye was always on the prize of pitching to the city. 

    "We were really working hard together for this project and our end goal was to get the city to notice. I know in our project this morning I talked about how we are going to start this pilot project, but we are hoping to that we be able to use within our school division and even our city," Morant said. 

    The trio received praise from committee chair Coun. Matt Allard (St. Boniface), who received their request to present at city hall and bumped them up on the agenda to hear from them first.

    "They reached out to my office last week and we forwarded their study and methodology to the public works department for their review. I'm also very interested in the outcome of their pilot project at Westwood Collegiate next winter, and feel a great sense of optimism and inspiration for the future hearing them speak," Allard said in an email to CBC. 

    The trio will push their effort into a trial stage in their Grade 12 year by spreading a mix of salt and hemp hurd on the parking lot and walkways of the school and taking watershed samples for analysis. 

    The three students credit the help they received from chemistry teacher Dave Shoesmith along with guidance from Amanda Benson at Ducks Unlimited to get this far. 

    They say the many hours of work strengthened already good friendships and look forward to getting to the next phase of the work. 

    The committee didn't just hear from the three students about alternatives to road salt.

    Diana Nicholson from Cypher Environmental told councillors her company has an anti-icing product — a salt derivative that looks and acts like salt, but is non-toxic and non-corrosive and is environmentally friendly. 


<< First  < Prev   1   2   3   4   5   ...   Next >  Last >> 

© Smart About Salt Council.  Smart About Salt is a trademark and the Smart About Salt logo is a registered trademark of the Smart About Salt Council.

 Terms of Use  Refund Policy  Privacy Statement

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software