(Photo: City of Surrey)

It might be summer, but Surrey’s already assessing its road salt stock

City of Surrey looking ahead to winter road salt supply

SURREY —While summer is in full swing, the City of Surrey is already looking ahead to next winter.

At a recent city council meeting, city council considered just how much road salt they would need for the next cold spell.

On average, Surrey uses about 6,000 tons of road salt during an entire winter season, according to a city report. But that went out the window last winter, when the city needed to use more than 20,000 tons.

During a 44-day cold snap from Dec. 4 to Jan. 16, temperatures in Surrey were at or below zero degrees Celsius, the longest duration of freezing temperatures since 1984.

Luckily, the city had 17,000 tons on hold in its salt storage facility, located at Surrey’s operations centre.

Even so, a report to city council notes it was “difficult to manage” given the supply dwindled and crews had to resort to blending its salt with sand to extend its supply.

“While this proved to be an effective approach, using sand is less desirable as it requires subsequent clean up from our road surfaces and street gutters, adding additional expense,” noted the report.

This time around, city council opted for a two-year contract that protects the city should it find itself in a similar situation as this past winter, where other cities were faced with large increases in both salt and shipping costs.

The city has capped its annual road salt spending at just over $1.3 million, and given a two-year contract to Lafarge Asphalt Technologies for the maximum annual supply and delivery of 12,000 tons of road salt.

The city now guarantees it will purchase 6,400 tons from the new supplier (up from 4,000), and the maximum the supplier must guarantee has risen from 6,000 to 12,000 tons per year.

Amy Reid