Beet juice, cheese brine among options Halifax considering for snow clearing

HALIFAX – Regional council is asking city staff to study whether ingredients like beet juice or cheese brine could help clear ice from Halifax roads and sidewalks.

After a contentious debate, councillors passed the motion 15-1. Councillor Linda Mosher, District 9 – Halifax West Armdale, said she put forward the idea because even though crews are working non-stop, roads and side walks are still covered in ice.

“Our crews and the contractor crews have done a great job in improving our processes but we have to adapt to the weather,” said Mosher. “The weather’s changed and we have to realise that may be the new normal and we must change our practices.”

Using beet juice, cheese brine, or beer byproduct in road salt isn’t a new idea, said Mosher. In the last few years its been popping up in New Brunswick, Toronto, Wisconsin, the B.C. interior, and other areas across North America. Williams Lake, B.C. started experimenting with a beet juice brine in January. The beet juice mix allows the salt to keep working at lower temperatures, making it more effective.

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READ MORE: Beet juice anti-icing agent is a ‘sweet success’ in Williams Lake

Halifax has previously studied beet juice in its winter operations, and decided against it, said Jennifer Stairs, a city spokesperson. Now they will look at it again.

“Staff are always looking at best practice in other jurisdictions, to see if there is something that might work better here in Halifax,” said Stairs.

Mosher said she wasn’t aware of previous reports on the use of beet juice or other organics in winter operations, but she said the recent winter blasts show Halifax is facing a new normal.

“Today I’ve had a couple of instances of streets that are a sheet of ice. Its my 15th winter on council and I have not seen anything like this,” said Mosher.

“If other cities can do it why can’t we do it.”

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage also weighed into the debate, he said while he supports the study he warned councillors about expecting a “magic bullet” solution.

The study will be included in the end of season winter works report that will be presented to Regional Council.