WATERLOO REGION – The weather events of last week, coupled with a region-wide salt shortage, is creating icy conditions on residential back roads. Area municipalities are working together to obtain additional supply of salt and have prioritized existing salt supplies to ensure, at a minimum, main roads and bus routes receive adequate salt coverage during the upcoming predicted freezing rain. Residential back roads will continue to be treated with sand.

Why isn’t there enough salt to cover roads?

Area municipalities’ salt stores are currently very low, due to difficulty in obtaining adequate volume from our supplier. Together with the Region of Waterloo, the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge have been working together to secure additional salt, as well as to maximize the supply of salt currently in storage in our region.

How has the weather impacted road maintenance?

Weather patterns are changing, with storm experiences now including a mix of snow and rain, which combined with freezing temperatures is creating icy conditions and therefore a greater reliance on salt to assist with clearing, rather than just plowing alone. However, in extreme cold (-12 or colder) salt is ineffective in melting ice, creating a reliance on sand to address issues on residential/priority 3 roads. 

How are the municipalities managing through the shortage?

Resources are being maximized to utilize different winter road treatment techniques depending on the type of road.  All residential back roads are expected to be treated with sand by in advance of the anticipated freezing rain. While sand does not eliminate ice it provides traction to reduce slippery conditions.  Salt is being utilized for main roads and bus routes.

Are residents still expected to clear to bare pavement on sidewalks, given the salt shortage is affecting the retail stores as well?

Given the icy conditions and lack of salt in the region, the municipalities recognize that achieving bare-pavement in sidewalk clearing may be difficult. In Kitchener, if it is clear that the issue with a sidewalk is related to a build-up of ice and an effort has been made to deal with the situation, bylaw officers will use discretion in enforcing the bylaw. Residents can find a listing of free sand to address slippery surfaces online.

What’s the difference between a priority 1, 2, 3 road?

  • Priority 1 = mains and arterials. All priority 1 and 2 routes and all GRT bus routes are maintained until complete.
  • Priority 2 = hills, curves & GRT routes. Work on Priority 2 streets begins only after Priority 1 streets have been completed. If snow resumes while in Priority 1 or 2, then clearing Priority 1 roads is restarted.
  • Priority 3 = Balance of backstreets, i.e. Full plow. Work on Priority 3 routes starts only after Priorities 1 and 2 have been completed. If snow resumes while in Priority 1 or 2, then clearing Priority 1 roads is restarted.

Learn more about snow clearing by visiting: www.kitchener.ca/snow