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.
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 controlling snow and ice on roads, bike lanes, bus shelters and bus stops, active pathways and City-maintained sidewalks using any number of tools—including sand, plows, salt, and anti-icer brine.
The City’s snow and ice removal team features more than 500 field staff ready for winter road maintenance. Including contracted equipment, the City has access to several hundred pieces of machinery, comprised of more than 150 plows, over 250 graders, over 260 end dumps, and other specialized equipment.
The safest option for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians is to use the appropriate tool based on current or forecasted conditions to achieve a safe and reliable travel during the winter season.
As part of our commitment to continuous improvement, we monitor the effectiveness of the tools we deploy throughout the winter. Adjustments are made based on citizen feedback and operational efficiencies.
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 (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 with a corrosion inhibitor is only applied directly to City-maintained sidewalks, bike lanes and active paths. Anti-icing brine also acts as a pre-wetting agent in sand and salt to ensure the sand and salt adhere to the snow and ice accumulation on the road surface.
Using anti-icing brine makes plowing easier and more effective by keeping snow and ice from sticking to the pavement. 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 not used on roads and is only applied on bike lanes, City-maintained sidewalks and active pathways
- Anti-icing brine is less corrosive to vehicles than traditional road salt
- Walking or cycling on treated pavement is safe for people and pets