The City is continually adapting its winter road maintenance program to support accessibility and mobility for all Edmontonians and support the Vision Zero goal of safe travel in every season — whether it’s on a road, bike lane or sidewalk.
We achieve this by removing snow and ice from roads, bike lanes, bus shelters and bus stops, and public sidewalks using any number of tools—including sand, plows, salt, and anti-icer brine.
The safest option for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians is to use the right tool for the right condition in order to reach bare pavement during the winter season.
This approach is based on extensive and ongoing research into best practices across North American jurisdictions, as well as a review of existing research on snow and ice control techniques.
As part of our study of snow and ice control techniques, we are doing a thorough review of the benefits and trade-offs of achieving bare pavement on our environment, infrastructure and vehicles. Once we have a more complete picture of the benefits and trade-offs of achieving bare pavement and how we can best optimize snow and ice control, we will report back to Council.
Snow & Ice Clearing
Physically removing snow and ice from roadways is our first line of defence. This includes plowing, brooming and snow-blowing. These mechanical clearing methods are efficient when dealing with large quantities of snow, but they’re most effective when combined with other strategies.
Salt & Sand
Thawing and refreezing can leave thick, slippery layers of ice on sidewalks and roadways. The City has different ice control tools for different weather conditions — salt is an effective de-icer except in extreme cold, and sand is used when it’s too cold for salt to be effective on its own.
Salt and sand are used to ensure safe road conditions. Weather conditions determine which is more effective at any given time. Salt is used to melt ice and sand is used to give more traction and provide more grip. Both are used to create safer conditions.
Temperatures Above -15 °C
Road salt (liquid or solid chips) is applied to loosen ice from pavement.
Temperatures Below -15 °C
Sand is applied to increase traction on icy roads until ice can be removed.
Anti-icing brine is the City’s newest tool. It is being used as part of a pilot project that began in 2017.
Using anti-icing brine makes plowing easier and more effective by keeping snow and ice from sticking to the pavement. Treating roads with this brine makes them safer and drier, but use of anti-icing brine is highly limited because it can only be used under very specific conditions.
Anti-icing brine is used when:
- The pavement is dry
- It’s -20°C or warmer
- There is no blowing snow
- Anti-icing brine is less corrosive to vehicles than traditional road salt
- Walking, cycling or driving on treated pavement is safe for people and pets
- Anti-icing brine is not used on residential roads and is only applied on major routes identified in the pilot program
For more information, visit Snow & Ice Control Pilot.