Heated sidewalks: A closer look


A resolution directing city staff to report on the feasibility of heated sidewalks for downtown Sault Ste. Marie is on the agenda for Tuesday night.

Tabled by Ward 3 Councillor Angela Caputo and seconded by Ward 1 Coun. Sonny Spina, the motion asks staff to investigate the cost of implementing and maintaining a heating system for downtown sidewalks. 

Staff are to compare best practices of other communities currently employing a heating system. Staff are also asked to conduct a cost-benefit analysis by examining slip-and-fall incidents, and costs of snow-clearing and plowing, and sanding and salting.

One of the cities they’ll look at is Holland, MI.

The southwest Michigan city of 35,000 was the first U.S. city to introduce heated sidewalks – and some streets – to its downtown in 1988. At that time, the city was tearing up its downtown streets to allow for new infrastructure.

Holland’s downtown was also facing the challenge of staying relevant in the midst of a booming shopping mall industry.

The Sault’s downtown revitalization project begins in earnest in the spring with new sidewalks in the works from Bruce to East streets. The goal is to transform Queen Street, making it a year-round hub for tourists and residents alike.

With sections of Queen St. East earmarked for infrastructure updates over the next six years, the timing of the motion to explore heated sidewalks makes sense.

So how does Holland do it?

Waste heat from Holland’s Energy Park cooling system is piped through a network of tubing under the concrete.

Roughly 17,800 litres of water per minute is pumped through the system at a temperature of 35 C, melting snow at a rate of one inch of snow per hour at temps of minus 6.5 C. It’s a closed system, so the same water is constantly recycled.

The network of heated streets and sidewalks continues to expand in conjunction with the city’s street restoration projects. Today about 64,000 square meters of Holland’s downtown sidewalks and roadways are heated.

Annual costs vary at $20,000 on the low end and as high as $80,000 on the top end. Costs are offset by reduced snow clearing, plowing and salting.

Other communities with harsh winters heating some of their sidewalks are Edmonton, AB and Reykjavik, Iceland.

5 thoughts on “Heated sidewalks: A closer look

    1. Heated sidewalks, a $16,000 New Year ball?? That’s a wrap on this guys competency.
      The part time child mayor has lost his last marble and doesn’t have a clue what the city really needs.
      Rampant violent and endless other crime including murders, Queen street storefronts locked up during business hours to screen for the daily onslaught of thieves, never ending theft, massive drug problems, homelessness, starvation, mental health issues, people sleeping outside wherever they can find any shelter at all, and, 70% of the roads are SHOT.
      It all gets swept under the rug and the squandering on tens of millions more on the long dead downtown continues.
      What was the definition of insanity again?
      “Keep taking the same approach over and over, expecting different results”

      1. The mayor didn’t bring these ideas to the tables.
        Get your facts straight or keep quiet. You’re making yourself look like an unhinged fool.

        1. He is ultimately responsible for every vital dollar that gets wrongly squandered and squandered they get, on an unbelievable scale.
          The long dead and dismal downtown doesn’t even rate on the scale.
          I’m surprised that the part time child mayor has not recommended a downtown monorail.
          The ever shrinking city needs and adult full time mayor, not a child part time mayor to get the city’s top priorities addressed once and for all.
          There is no housing available, crime of all sorts, brutal violence, and deadly drugs are out of control. The dead downtown should be last on the list.
          Unfortunately this will never happen and it is the main reason why the population shrinks more every year and people get more disillusioned.
          It will never be anything more than a retirement town, that is if people can even afford the insane cost of rent/mortgage/food/hydro/heating.

  1. It’s plain to see a this point that city hall is run by a delusional part time mayor who either doesn’t have a clue what the painfully obvious things are that the city really needs, or he just doesn’t care.

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