'I'm not saying no': Vancouver mayor considers salt giveaway amid shortage
VANCOUVER -- As Vancouverites go from store to store only to find supplies of salt and ice melt sold out, the mayor says the city may be able to help.
Kennedy Stewart told reporters gathered for his first press conference of the year that home and business owners scrambling to find salt to satisfy bylaws requiring they keep their sidewalks clear should call 311 to see if city staff could help them out from the municipal supply.
"We'll try to get resources to them as quickly as possible," said Stewart. "We do monitor all the 311 calls that come in and we do know, for example, if we're having hundreds and hundreds of calls about salt, then that's something we can address right away."
When asked if that meant he’d consider the kind of free salt giveaway that prompted a sharp-elbowed frenzy at Vancouver fire halls as Vancouverites scrambled for the rare commodity, Stewart said it’s on the table.
"I'm not going to say no, but at this point we don't see a need for it," he said.
Overall, Stewart is pleased with the city’s "all hands on deck" approach to clearing major arterial routes and lauded staff’s addition of resources as more snow has fallen.
"I'm sorry people are frustrated," he said. "We know by the weekend we're going to get rain and most of this should go away and I'm hoping people would be patient, but at this point I'm satisfied by the response of the city."
Where’s the salt?
As for what’s keeping a fresh supply of road salt from appearing on store shelves, Ryan MacMillan, the manager of the Home Hardware on Commercial Drive, said he has more on the way – but it’s been a challenge to physically get it to the city.
"One of the trucks broke down on the Coquihalla (Highway) and the other one just seems to be taking its sweet time coming in from the valley – I gather it's pretty bad out there on the highway," said Ryan MacMillan.
"Yesterday morning I had a stack of 250 bags, I’m hoping to get more but I don’t know when it’s coming."