This past week, the big debate on calcium chloride finally ended with the adoption of Councillor Knack’s motion to suspend the use of calcium chloride on city roads for this winter season. My office has understandably been receiving feedback on my vote against the motion and I would like to address my constituents to offer further explanation for why I voted the way that I did. I appreciate that this is a frustrating issue for all Edmontonians and have heard from a number of constituents in Ward 5 about the effects that they have seen throughout this pilot program.
Firstly, I would like to clarify that I did not vote to keep using calcium chloride, but I did vote against what I considered to be an imperfect motion. It’s true that the motion will see a suspension of calcium chloride on roadways for the 2019/20 winter season, but it will continue to allow its use on bike lanes, multi-use paths, as well as sidewalks. It also does not address the use of sodium chloride, which itself increased year-over-year despite the introduction of calcium chloride; usually you would expect to see the opposite result. An overall lower use of chlorides in general is often a motivator for municipalities to introduce calcium chloride because both forms contribute to corrosion and damage.
I also voted against a motion that I believe micromanages City Administration, which is why it was leading to such a protracted debate. I was not convinced the motion would pass, as it had failed last week, and I was prepared to have a subsequent discussion addressing it’s flaws. Unfortunately, that did not happen. A policy aimed at functionally reducing both forms of chlorides while still maintaining adequate winter safety on roads is one I would support.
After five weeks of debate, it is official that calcium chloride will not be used on winter roads in Edmonton this winter. However, it will still be used by surrounding municipalities and by the provincial government on our highways, as it has been for the last five to ten years, respectively. It will also still be used on our sidewalks, multi-use paths, and bike lanes. The Snow and Ice Control Policy will be back in front of committee next summer and my hope is that Administration will return with something that is more transparent and sensitive to the valid concerns Edmontonians have about our snow and ice control methods. I also hope that the reprieve from calcium chloride will allow us to properly evaluate both forms of chlorides separately and their actual effect on our roadways and infrastructure.
As always, I encourage you to share your thoughts on this and any other city matters with my office. If you would like to reach out directly, you can connect with me by phone at 780-496-8120, email at email@example.com or via twitter @sjlhamilton.