After questioning city staff on the use of calcium chloride as a de-icer, councillors decided Tuesday the city would continue to use the chemical on Edmonton roads, despite a surfaced report that concluded the spray may damage infrastructure.

A pilot program was launched by the City of Edmonton in 2016-2017 to test calcium chloride on three roads. Each year, the program has been expanded to be tested on more roadway, and the spray has been used differently to try to find the optimal mix to boost safety and reduce corrosion.

This year, the city estimated the product would be used on 3,000 kilometres of roadway, or 40 per cent of Edmonton’s arterial and collector roads.

Calcium chloride’s effect on concrete and asphalt was tested in a laboratory. However, the results—that “application of calcium chloride over the life of a pavement may negatively impact its long-term performance”—were only shared with councillors when the report was recently made public.

Some councillors said they’ve heard constituent concerns about vehicle and property damage, including Ward 3 Councillor Jon Dziadyk, who motioned to stop the pilot project in October. The motion was defeated at the time, leaving him unable to make it again Tuesday though both he and a fellow councillor said the city has enough data to do so.

“We have enough information to realize that this product is impacting private vehicles, people's driveways, and it's just genuinely unpopular amongst Edmontonians,” Dziadyk said.

“If we really want to disprove this, there is the argument that you wait for spring thaw to see more damage. But gee, that's kind of a big cost isn't it?” asked Ward 4 Councillor Aaron Paquette.

The mayor said he wasn’t caught off guard by the report.

“The memo itself isn't a smoking gun that says, ‘Oh, we should stop right away,’” Don Iveson said. “At least not for any of the councillors that supported moving ahead with the pilot and trying this in the first place.”  

Calcium chloride will be used for the rest of the winter, but in the wake of the internal memo, administration has agreed to publish raw data from the pilot in the city’s open data catalogue once the pilot program is completed this year.

The city also said crews have been using more salt this season. Ward 10 Councillor Michael Walters suggested this may be contributing to vehicle and infrastructure damage.

Calcium chloride has been used on Anthony Henday Drive since it was built.

With files from Jeremy Thompson