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Petition: Salt vs. Sand

As those lovely white rings on our pant cuffs and shoes remind us, Toronto uses huge amounts of salt on its roads and sidewalks each year, salt that runs off into our waterways, rusts our cars, and ruins our footwear. While this week's near-tropical temperatures have rid our fair city of most of its wintery precipitation, colder days are on the way, and with them will return the age-old debate of salt vs. sand.

After Environment Canada's 2001 report on the dangers of road salts to our local ecosystems, the Ontario government claims to have reduced its salt use by 20%. But is this enough?

Laurie Varga, a Toronto communications consultant and community activist, doesn't think so. "I'd never encountered [road salt] until I moved here eight years ago," says Varga, a Calgary native who was surprised by the Tdot's salt-happy ways. Her hometown uses mostly sand and gravel to combat slippery roads, an alternative she feels is much more sound. With that in mind, Varga has posted an online petition asking for a ban on road salts, which she plans to present to Mayor Miller and other city officials.

Sand and gravel pose their own problems, ("Everyone in Alberta has chipped windshields from the pea gravel," she says) but compared to the longterm effects of salt pollution, it seems like a small price to pay.

Photo: drp

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