A couple of stipulations have been tacked on to the city’s Cosmetic Pesticide Bylaw, ready for when city staff decide to spray pesticides on city infrastructure.
During the city’s budget deliberations in November last year, city staff proposed a $10,000 increase in the budget to do a one-time pesticide application. It would be used on some of the islands on the Trans-Canada Highway and some sidewalks,likely starting downtown.
The city’s bylaw to regulate the cosmetic use of pesticides was enacted in 2008 and amended in 2011. It contains several exceptions, one that states: “This bylaw shall not apply in respect of the application of pesticides to prevent the deterioration of hard landscapes after alternatives have been utilized without success.”
Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, told council in November the time has come for an application of pesticides.
He said two students were pulling weeds – but the weeds prevailed and are wrecking the hard surfaces.
“It is too labour-intensive. It’s getting to the point now that weeds and weed seeds are so prevalent we can’t keep up with it,” Niewenhuizen said.
In response, Coun. Tim Lavery proposed a motion with three parts at council’s Monday, Jan. 16 meeting.
The first part would require staff to provide rationale to council for the exception, as well as the mix of non-pesticides and pesticides proposed. The second would ask staff for an annual pesticide usage report for council and the third would seek public input at an evening meeting on the proposed applications.
The first and second parts were supported by council, the third not.
Coun. Kevin Flynn said he could probably support parts one and two, but not another public meeting.
“But to ask for public input before doing what we’ve waited eight years to do, I can’t support. I think staff has erred on the point of caution,” he said, surmising only people who are not in support would show up.
Although Lavery’s initial motion proposed that staff provide their rationale before the spraying actually takes place, Coun. Alan Harrison suggested that part be taken out.
“For those of us who have been at the table for a while, I’ve heard a lot of pros and cons. I certainly don’t want to second-guess staff.”
Council also stipulated that the initial report staff provide to council be brief. It’s not yet known when the pesticide application will take place.