Going, going, gone: Free salt at Vancouver fire stations disappears in minutes

Jan 4 2017, 5:55 pm

The City of Vancouver made snow and ice-melting salt available free of charge at ten fire stations beginning at 9 am on Wednesday morning, but residents who had lined up around the block were left disappointed as supplies ran out in minutes.

“Well, all of the halls had salt delivered and all the salt disappeared within eight (to) 45 minutes,” Vancouver Fire Assistant Chief John Dennis told Daily Hive.

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And if you are hoping to get your hands on more salt at fire stations, Dennis says you will have to wait.

“As far as I know, the initial deliveries that were delivered this morning are gone. However, I understand that (the City of Vancouver) is working on a plan to put more in place but I am not sure when that will be,” he said.

Frustrated crowds

With most stores in Vancouver out of salt, residents rushed to fire halls this morning, where they were allowed to take two buckets each of the precious commodity.

“I think most people in Vancouver are fairly patient. But I know that they did arrive at a few fire halls to find out that the salt had either not arrived yet or had been gone by the time they got there,” Dennis said.

Some Vancouverites took to Twitter to express their salty frustrations with the crowds at fire stations this morning.

The crowds of residents at fire halls this morning have been causing some difficulties for firefighters.

“Well, it does inundate the fire halls quite a bit when a lot of vehicles start to show up on the ramps of the fire hall. It effects (fire fighters’) ability to respond to the fire calls,” Dennis said.

“I think they were a little overwhelmed and did not expect so many people to show up for salt all at one time.”

Construction crews help clear salt

Property owners and landlords are responsible for clearing snow from the sidewalks that surround their property by 10 am on the morning after the snowfall. Nearly 3,800 properties have been inspected and 1,700 first warning notices have been issued. The City says it has a compliance rate of 90% from businesses, 85% from apartments, and 85% from single-family homes.

To date, the City has used approximately 7,000 tonnes of salt during this winter season – more than triple the amount used over the last two winter periods and about seven times more than the average seasonal usage.

On Tuesday, the City announced that 150 construction crews will be deployed to assist with the expanded efforts to clear snow and ice from residential side streets.

With files from Kenneth Chan.