Southern Ontario has found itself in a somewhat unprecedented situation; there isn’t enough salt to go around, and without it, homeowners and contractors can’t melt the recent buildup of ice, and with another winter storm set to blow in from Colorado, the province is facing a crisis. The sudden shortage of road salt in Ontario has been forcing many contractors to use alternative methods to help clear roadways, such as importing salt from Morocco or Egypt or using the less effective substitute sand.
Salt supply has been so depleted in the cities of Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo that they have switched to sand on residential back roads so that their dwindling salt supply can be used solely on their main roads and bus routes which have taken priority.
Areas expected to be hit hardest by the upcoming storm are Windsor, Cornwall, London, Tobermory, Durham, and the Niagara region, all of which will be pelted with freezing rain on top of large amounts of snowfall. The aftermath of freezing rain relies heavily on ample supplies of salt to melt away the ice that has been cemented onto the roads.
The shortage of salt spurns from three main contributing factors: last year’s brutal onslaught of winter storms, a 12-week strike at the Goderich salt mine and flooding at an American salt mine located beneath Lake Erie In Cleveland, Ohio, CBC reports.
Since returning to their jobs, Goderich miners have been working double-time to supply the province with its high demand for salt. But the gaping hole in salt supply created by their long hiatus has made the order hard to fill.
We can produce a lot of salt in three months, “explained Gary Lynch, the president of Unifor Local 16-0 according to CBC. "The guys are down there working their butts off, as fast as we can get it to surface, it's gone," he said. "We don't have any stock."
It is unknown at this time how long the shortage will last, but it is unlikely salt workers will receive any break in demands while the winter season remains in full swing. Workers may need to spend the warmer months resupplying in the hopes of avoiding another shortage next year.