Road salt and other seasonings

A few days ago I read that St. John’s was already $1 million over budget on road salt this winter. I’ve been mulling over what it is I want to say about this problem, recalling the number of days I’ve stepped outside my front door and seen it to be too icy to even make it to the bus stop; Halifax has given me the soap box I was looking for.

Anyone who’s been reading the news or simply living in the city knows that Halifax’s road and sidewalk clearing is a big issue this winter. I feel like us folks in Newfoundland are rather resigned to the shitty winter existence forced upon us, whereas Haligonians are simply busier people. There have been protests and countless editorials and online discussion about their overworked road clearing companies and the general lack of actually clear roads (and sidewalks). So I am pleased to see that the city councillors are investigating alternative to road salt. Beet juice, cheese brine, and molasses are a few of the ingredients being considered. It seems like they’re doing their research, other city’s trials and errors being considered. So this could be a beneficial move, if at least for next winter.

I think I am generally opposed to the notion of road salt due to its visual and ethical similarities to the great “salting of Carthage” we hear about in Classics all the time. It’s awful for the environment (not to mention shoes) and there’s just something incredibly cold and wintry about big piles of salt. It’s as if it prevents spring from coming. Yeah, this may just be a personal issue. But the Carthage reference still stands.

The Coast asks us:

Halifax probably has a butt-load of something just sitting around that we can slather all over our streets and sidewalks. We just need to be creative. Spent microbrew grains? Feta brine? Old peanut shells like days gone by at Maxwell’s?

My vote is for the microbrew grains. Lord knows there’s enough to go around in that city. Though it may leave a rather yeasty smell around town. Same scent problems appear to be the case with cheese brine, and probably molasses, too. I can’t imagine it would make the long-enduring dog walkers of Halifax terribly pleased.

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