City to drop beets in the streets

Image of Shawna O'Neill
By Shawna O'Neill
City to drop beets in the streets
Media file photo.

CORNWALL, Ontario – Using beet juice as a means to maintain our city roads and reduce salt use has been something on Paul Rochon’s mind for a while now.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years,” he said, excited about the trial that will take place soon. “I was Road Supervisor for nine years, and now I’m Acting-Division Manager of Municipal Works.”

Throughout his time ensuring the safety of our local roads, Rochon has seen the price of a beet juice formula drop while the price of road salt has increased by about 30 per cent in one year, primarily due to production complications. Rochon thought that now would be the perfect time to partner with Quebec company Eco-Forma Inc. to test out the organic product.

“We are always trying new technologies, if we can find them, to save money,” said Rochon, who noted that the trial would come at no extra cost to the City, utilizing operating budget costs within the magnesium-chloride budget. Magnesium-chloride is the compound that is spread on our roads alongside salt to increase its effectiveness.

Rochon explained that the beet juice is to be spread on roads before a storm or snowfall as it will inhibit snow from binding to the road. In Quebec, where Rochon observed the product first being used, residents initially complained about the beet smell and the natural color of the product splashing onto cars. Now, the non-corrosive and odorless formula has been adjusted.

The City is prepared to inform road users on social media before the trial commences.

“We will most likely try to hit Brookdale Ave., one side with (beet juice) and one side without…then put the salt at a lower application on the side with beet juice and see if its as effective as the other side,” said Rochon.

Rochon has heard from other municipalities that this beet method is hard to beat in terms of reducing salt usage overall.

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