What was that smell in the Woodroffe campus parking lot?

Students smelled the winds of change when a new de-icing provider used a beet brine to prepare for snow
Photo: Nathalia Lencioni
Student Marie-Pier Caron, trying to curb the smell at the parking lot in front of E-building on Feb. 15.

Marie-Pier Caron, a student in the illustration program at Algonquin College, said she was relieved other people noticed the smell at the campus main parking lot, on Feb. 15.

“I thought I put my bag or jacket down somewhere and it got poop or something on it,” she said. “I’m glad it’s not just me, I thought I was carrying the smell in my bag because it was so strong.”

It certainly wasn’t. The smell became a topic of conversation easily overheard in the hallways of the campus.

The college has recently signed a new contract with service provider for snow removal, de-icing, and salting, according to Ryan Southwood, executive director of facilities management. The name of the service provider was not revealed.

“It’s a new contract this year, so they’re learning,” said Southwood. “So, there have been some adjustments. Before we signed this contract, we had been examining opportunities to go greener instead of just using rock salt, we investigated beet brine, but we found out about the smell.”

Ryan Southwood, executive director of facilities management, speaking about the smell issue at his office in G-building.
Ryan Southwood, executive director of facilities management, explained the reasons for the smell issue at his office in G-building. Photo credit: Nathalia Lencioni

Beet brine, which is used commonly as an alternative to rock salt on sidewalks and roads, is made up primarily of sugar, beet molasses and salt. The sugar in the beet molasses is effective at lowering the freezing point of water.

“We were very clear with our service provider that we were not going to use beet brine,” said Southwood. “But I believe other clients in Ottawa do use it, what we’ve been told is they didn’t use beet brine, but there may have been beet brine contamination of the de-icer that they use.”

Eli Sliwa, a student in the broadcasting television and streaming video program, said he first noticed the smell outside of N-building and was surprised and upset.

“It’s really weird that it smells like that,” said Sliwa. “It smells so bad, it makes Ottawa U smell good.”

student Umas Emiola, covering his nose from the smell while waiting for bus outside of student commons.
Student Umas Emiola, covering his nose from the smell while waiting for bus outside of Student Commons. Photo credit: Nathalia Lencioni

Southwood said the smell in the parking lot is expected to fade within the next few days. However, it may remain in students’ memories — and the carpeting of campus buildings.

“It’ll dissipate throughout the day and overnight,” said Southwood, on Feb. 15. “Another challenge is it might be in some of the carpets. So there may be some lingering smells, but I’m hoping that by overnight, it actually dissipates and becomes much less noticeable for people on campus.”

Algonquin Times podcast
Algonquin Times horoscopes
Follow Algonquin Times on Instagram
Algonquin Times on Instagram
Algonquin Times podcast
Algonquin Times on Instagram
Algonquin Times horoscopes
Follow Algonquin Times on Instagram

Sections

Algonquin Times on Instagram
Algonquin Times podcast
Follow Algonquin Times on Instagram
Algonquin Times horoscopes
Follow Algonquin Times on Instagram
Algonquin Times on Instagram
Algonquin Times podcast
Algonquin Times horoscopes

Stay Informed

Sign up for our newsletter

You have been subscribed. Thank you!