An Ontario woman on a recent Vancouver trip took to TikTok to wonder aloud about what she felt was a city maintenance faux-pas: Why were the roads salty when it was above zero degrees?
And while many in the comments justify the move, one expert stresses it’s not always necessary.
The woman, who goes by the handle @maddy.kim, posed the question to her followers while walking down the unnamed street on a sunny day.
“It’s currently 7 degrees celsius,” she says. “And the City of Vancouver has salted literally every single sidewalk.”
It's unclear if the salt on streets was the doing of the municipality, a citizen or a private contractor.
She then shows the leaf-dappled street, which is indeed sprinkled with salt.
“These Vancouver people need to learn how to deal with snow,” she continues. “But also like, 7 degrees? It doesn’t snow at 7 degrees. We don’t need the salt. They just have to grow up a little bit.”
And while Vancouver doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to snow clearance, dozens of people in the comments defended the decision to salt the streets despite warmer temperatures.
“Maddy doesn’t know what black ice is,” one person said.
“When it's 0 degrees at night and you wake up to black ice, salt is necessary,” a commenter added.
“Goes down to -1 overnight, if it rains the night before it will become ice,” another user said. “Also 7 degrees here feels colder than 7 degrees in Ontario!”
Salting unnecessarily can be harmful
However, one professional landscaper who spoke to Yahoo Canada doesn’t feel that salting the streets when the temperature is above 0 is often necessary, especially since it's bad for the environment as it can harm wildlife and contaminate drinking water.
Chris York is the owner of Terraform Construction Ltd., a Richmond, B.C.-based landscaping company. He says often contractors will have it in their contract that they salt sidewalks if it's under a certain temperature, even if it's a brief cold spell.
"Their contract says they’ll automatically salt when it’s under zero degrees, and it freezes for maybe an hour," he tells Yahoo Canada.
In an email, a representative with the City of Vancouver said it does not recommend salting sidewalks at temperatures above zero degrees, as salt is not needed or required to treat for icy conditions.
"It is unclear what sidewalks are of concern in the video, but given the warmer temperatures and rain that Vancouver has experienced in the last week, it appears that a citizen salted unnecessarily," it read.
York says it may be necessary to salt the streets in some cases, and buildings might ask for that type of maintenance, while other buildings, like the one he lives in, request that contractors only salt when it's needed.
To salt or not to salt: Top tips for dropping temperatures
The City of Vancouver has a list of tips on how to minimize your impact when using salt. It suggests shovelling snow away from sidewalks and driveways first, before it turns to ice, and then only salting in areas that are needed for safety.
The City also suggests buying the right type of salt, as some variations don't work in -10 C weather or colder.
The City provides a handy tip for just how much to use: a 12-ounce coffee mug, for instance, is enough for 500 square feet of driveway.