As long as I can remember, a black-tarpaulined dune of salt has sat on the east end of the harbourfront secured with tires and rope. Before the post-9-11 tightening of port security, the giant heap was possibly more climbed-up than the onlooking South Side Hills. Despite the wild views it provides, the salt pile is not part of the east coast trail, but part of home heating providers Harvey’s Ltd.
Their biggest customer is, of course, the City itself, which last winter carved upwards of 23,000 tons off the mountain to spread on the streets of St. John’s.
According to Paul Mackey, Director of Public Works and Parks, Harvey’s has guaranteed the municipality 35,000 tons of salt in preparation for this winter. This is the equivalent in weight of roughly 771,610 average to large goats (who are known, of course, for their taste for salt.)
The salt in the harbour pile is generally mined in Pugwash, NS, or Quebec’s Magdalen Islands, and shipped to the wharf in the summer. In winter, Harvey’s delivers it as needed in 500-1,000 ton amounts to the city depot, or it’s picked up directly at the wharf by city salt trucks. The City Salt Management Plan indicates that trucks use a curiously-named spreading technology called the “Dickey-John Control Point System” that matches salt output to road conditions (the Plan doesn’t say who Dickey-John is.) But according to Paul Mackey, to cover the entire city once takes roughly 200 tons.
And at $72.16 a ton, the City is probably cursing this year’s early winter.
– Lesley Thompson