Saskatoon replacing sand, salt with wood chips in test run

November 13, 2018

By: The Working Forest Staff

The City of Saskatoon is testing out an environmentally friendly way to make roads less slick this winter.

According to a report by the CBC, the city of Saskatoon was inspired by cities in Switzerland and Quebec. City workers will be using wood chips on icy roads in the North Industrial Area rather than sand and salt.

The city’s roadways director Brandon Harris told CBC Radio’s Saskatoon Morning the city wants to make sure there are no problem with the chips.“We have to make sure the traction is as good as sand, and we have to make sure we won’t be plugging up catch basins,” said Brandon Harris. “The last thing we want is for spring to roll around and us to have a whole problem with getting rid of water.”

Harris said wood chips are better for the environment than salt and tend to cause less issues in the spring.“In the spring, you don’t get the dust,” he said. “Most of that organic material will just wash away with normal runoff. Sand stays in place.” 

Every year, the city generates mountains of wood chips from activities like stump grinding with fallen trees. Harris said it just makes sense to use a resource the city already has. The city plans to inform drivers well before the wood chips are used on roads. If the pilot program is successful, the city may expand the project to other areas of the city.

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