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Calgary ice can be beet with volcano rock

Beet 55 and zeolite tested on Calgary cycle tracks and pedestrian walkways as environmentally friendly alternatives

The City of Calgary is looking at alternatives to their favourite

Elizabeth Cameron/ for Metro

The City of Calgary is looking at alternatives to their favourite "pickle" mixture to combat icy walkways, without the added salt.

This winter, the city’s got a few new green tools acting as pickle’s pals when it comes to combating icy walkways and cycle tracks.

At the beginning of wintertime, the city ordered some Beet 55 and zeolite. Both de-icers will be tested for performance compared to other materials they’ve tried. That includes the costs, impact on environment and their equipment.

Beet 55, the beet-laden substance, is supposed to be easier on the planet than the city’s self-made gravel and salt combo (pickle). That’s just being used on the downtown cycle tracks right now to keep ice at bay.

This is different from the mix the city already uses as a pre-snow spray, which has an output high in calcium chloride – with a side of beets – as a rust inhibitor.

“One of the challenges we’ve had is figuring out how to use Beet 55 with our equipment,” said roads spokeswoman Brittany Kustra. “We have quite a bit left to use over the course of winter, but we’re going to keep putting that down on the cycle tracks to see how good it is for ice control.”

Elizabeth Cameron/ for Metro

Kustra explained this is more of a pure beet solution.

Coun. Brian Pincott, who has turned up his nose at beets before is having a change of heart.

“It’s the only good use of beets I can think of,” said Pincott. “I will have to change my stance to: I hate beets, except on cycle tracks.”

Zeolite is also known as volcanic rock. These bits are known to be master absorbers and the city’s testing them on select inner-city bridge decks for pedestrians.

“This is a salt-free product that helps with ice control,” Kustra said. “One of the interesting things about it is it heats up quicker when the sun is out, and it helps with melting a lot better.”

She noted it’s easier on the sidewalks, and isn’t a problem when it goes down the drain.

Pincott said it’s great to see the city testing environmentally friendly products.

“I love it. We need to do more of that, not just on roads,” said Pincott. “It’s a good environmental choice, less harmful to infrastructure and rivers.”

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