Saanich spent upwards of 320 tonnes of salt during the recent snowstorm, according to the Saanich Engineering Department.
Overnight we put down 25 tons of salt, so since Sunday we have used approximately 250 tons of salt on the road network.— District of Saanich (@saanich) January 16, 2020
Did you know that the salt freezes? Well, it does. We douse it in brine to get it ready for the road. #Saanichhttps://t.co/dpmwDjFZf1 pic.twitter.com/874tl7PuZx
While residents scrambled to dig their boots and parkas out of storage, District crews were working to take care of the roads 24 hours a day.
The District has 10 vehicles that can be equipped to manage snow and ice when necessary, explained Harley Machielse, director of engineering.
Before a snowstorm hits, Saanich crews work to prepare the roads for the impending snow and ice by spreading an anti-icing brine on the surface of the roads. In ideal conditions, the brine – a solution of salt and water – works to keep the roads free of ice for about three days, Machielse said.
The brine was also used to prep the salt for the roads as it often froze in the truck. Wetting the salt helps it activate faster and help it stick to the road, a District spokesperson explained.
Once the snow hit the ground, staff worked around the clock to clear and salt roads on a schedule based on priority, Machielse said. Emergency routes must be cleared within the first 24 hours. Then, crews focus on major routes, important bus routes, steep residential hills, bridges and municipal entrances and parking lots.
Sidewalks, on the other hand, must be cleared by property owners according to Saanich bylaws. Machielse was glad to see residents complying and removing snow from the sidewalks near their homes.
Municipal staff are grateful that residents were patient while routes were cleared, Machielse said. He emphasized that crews worked hard to keep the roads safe during what he hopes will be the last storm of the winter.
As the snow begins to melt, residents are asked to help keep nearby storm drains clear so the water has somewhere to go. Sandbags are available at the public works yard for free.