December 15, 2012
Results are now available from an online survey conducted to investigate and document winter maintenance of parking lots and sidewalks in Ontario.

The project was initiated by Landscape Ontario as a three year study through the University of Waterloo.

The use of materials, maintenance strategies, latest equipment and hurdles to sustainability were explored. The survey included 30 questions that addressed application rates, materials, types of equipment and preferences toward various maintenance strategies.

More than 100 complete responses were received. Those writing the report felt that the responses were of high quality, since many respondents used the open-ended option at end of questions to comment. The survey was sent to the contractors at the start of April 2012.

The survey posted a conclusion, which reads, “A number of important trends have been observed that will not only be useful in developing maintenance guidelines that are more practical, but can also help improve the overall efficiency of the industry.”

Two other major conclusions, posted at the end of the survey, concerned application rates and litigation.

“The reported application rates have a large standard deviation, indicating that maintenance contractors are unsure of the amount of material that is needed for given conditions. It is also learned that more than 70 per cent of the contractors currently do not have any equipment that can be used to accurately measure the amount of salt being used at different locations. Hence, if snow and ice control guidelines were to be prepared for use by field practitioners, this deficiency will have to be kept under consideration.”

The conclusion also stated that a majority of the contractors reported they over-apply salt to avoid slip and falls, which they felt often lead to litigations and increases in insurance premiums. “Given the relatively low price of salt, minimal penalties for over application, and majority of contracts being ‘Salt Extra,’ it can be inferred that this trend of over application of salt will continue. A large proportion of the respondents (75 per cent) believe that ten per cent or more salt could be saved if litigations and insurance premiums were not a concern,” states the conclusion.

To see the complete report go to Survey of Current State of Practice for Winter Maintenance of Parking Lots and Sidewalks at