Project Overview


Every year, Canada spends over $1 billion to clear snow and ice on public and private roads, parking lots and sidewalks.  This includes the use of over 5 million tonnes of salts for deicing and anti-icing operations.  While use of salts is essential to ensure the public safety and mobility and the nation’s economic vitality, release of such large quantities of salts could cause significant environmental side effects such as damages to the soil, water, plants and wildlife (Andrey and Knapper, 2003).  Salt is also a significant factor contributing to the corrosion of bridges, buildings and vehicles, increasing their maintenance costs by billions of dollars.

Because of these significant financial, environmental, and social implications, considerable research and development efforts have been devoted to the improvement of winter maintenance methods, products, and technologies over the past decades.  However, most of the past efforts have focused on roadway maintenance with little research on those for parking lots and sidewalks although the latter takes a significant share of salt usage (20~30%). There are few defendable and uniform guidelines on what snow and ice control methods, materials, and application rates should be adopted for these facilities. The few available guidelines are either short of recommending application rates (Environment Canada, 2004) or derived rates straight from those for roads which often have drastically different functional requirements and environmental conditions.  This lack of uniform salting guidelines, in combination with the private owners’ desire to minimize their business risk and legal exposure, has resulted in excessive quantities of salts being applied in these areas. 

This research project was initiated by a request from Landscape Ontario – an association representing over 2000 horticultural professionals such as landscape, maintenance and snow management contractors, and landscape designers.  Landscape Ontario has long been concerned about the environmental effects of road salts and the lack of standards and guidelines in the industry for salt application.  It recognizes the need for a systematic study to address the common question that faces every winter maintenance contractor: what is the right deicing/anti-icing material and amount that should be applied under a given condition?

Project Objectives

The primary goal of this research project is to develop a better understanding of the conditions that influence the effectiveness of various commonly used deicing and anti-icing strategies and methods for parking lots and sidewalks, and to develop knowledge for optimum selection of materials, application rates and techniques. The specific objectives of the project include:

  • Determine the condition variables that affect the performance of rock salts, brines, and alternative chemicals (including organic de-icing products).
  • Determine the optimum application forms and rates for deicing and anti-icing treatments of parking lots and sidewalks over the expected range of pavement and environmental conditions. 
  • Develop models that can be used to forecast pavement surface conditions, such as residual salts, snow and ice cover, and friction, under specific weather events and treatment schedule.
  • Develop guidelines and decision support tools for snow and ice control of parking lots and sidewalks, including material selection, salt application rates and treatment strategies.

Project Benefits

  • Reduce salt usage and thus environmental impact
  • Improve the safety of parking lots and sidewalks
  • Reduce winter maintenance costs 
  • Train HQPs for Canada