'Today's been a doozy': Salt flies off store shelves as Vancouver deals with snowy sidewalks

With more snow on the way for Vancouver, the city is asking for patience and local hardware store workers say those who haven't bought salt yet better start shoveling.

Bags of salt have flown off store shelves as residents try to stay on top of keeping sidewalks and driveways clear.

On Wednesday morning, there was a lineup of people hoping to get their hands on the hot commodity at Home Hardware in Davie Village, said store assistant Ty Campbell.

"It was gone in seconds. The second it came in, it was gone," Campbell said. "We managed to get a few extra bags in, and the second they came in, they left again.

"Today's been a doozy."

The Home Hardware on Commercial Drive also can't keep up with demand. Employee Tim Stockley said they sold around 400 bags of salt over the past two days.

Both Stockley and Campbell say they don't know when they'll have more salt in stock — highway closures have stalled deliveries.

In the meantime, it may be tempting to use alternatives to salt, but Campbell wouldn't recommend it.

"I know some people have been using kitty litter to actually get out, if their car is stuck," he said.

"Kitty litter is a clay, so the second the snow starts to melt, you're going to have a bigger issue of having clay everywhere."

Sand can help with traction but won't melt the ice, Stockley noted. 

The best way to keep sidewalks from turning into a "slippery, slidey hazard" is to bust out the shovel, he said.

"The sidewalks and roadways, especially at the ends of the sidewalks where it dips down a bit, make sure those are cleared as best as possible," he said.

Even shovels might be hard to come by at this point. At West Coast Janitorial Supplies, regional manager Phil Nowak said he's sold 460 bags of ice melter so far and can hardly keep shovels in stock. 

"Come and buy it now because once they're gone it's going to be hard to get them again," he said. 

Rhianna Schmunk/CBC

More snow on the way Wednesday night

Up to five centimetres of snowfall is expected in Metro Vancouver by Wednesday evening, with up to 10 centimetres on the North Shore and in Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. 

In January 2017, an unusual cold snap gripped Vancouver for almost a month, prompting the city to offer free salt at several firehalls.

Residents swarmed the halls and the city had to restrict salt rations to one bucket per person.

On Tuesday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said that won't be happening again.

Hundreds of staff are currently focusing on clearing 1,500 kilometres of major routes, the city said in a statement.

Kennedy said he's satisfied with the city's response to the sudden winter weather, but anyone with concerns can call 311 for help. 

"We've had an all-hands-on-deck approach that I think has been working effectively," he said.

"Of course people are going to be frustrated. Vancouver is not a snow city. We get snow for a week, it's going to be inconvenient."

And while residents might be having trouble finding salt, Kennedy said the city is well-prepared. 

"As far as I'm concerned, at this point we have adequate stockpiles of salt to get through this ... snowmageddon."