Chemical war on weeds
What human force can’t fix, science may do better.
That seems to be North Glengarry’s reasoning for this year’s weed-control program, which has a $30,000 budget for spraying herbicides to help reduce a growing problem.
Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry United Counties Weed Inspector Peter Leyenaar related in his presentation to council February 8, some of the chemicals used to control noxious weeds are ClearView and Escort. Another two new chemicals are also being considered.
“It appears we are the only township in SDG that hasn’t been doing road-side spraying,” said CAO Daniel Gagnon. “We have $30,000 in the budget for 2016 to begin a more aggressive road-side spraying process, because, as we heard, the mechanical isn’t doing enough and we’ve been having complaints from residents over the noxious weeds.”
While Coun. Carma Williams raised concerns about using chemicals to kill weeds, Mr. Leyenaar said the products have been approved by Health Canada and are non-carcinogenic.
Ms. Williams would like to see more studies on the herbicides. “Frankly, I think that should be your priority versus moving to a chemical we haven’t been using in the past.”
Mr. Leyenaar commented, “The majority of people want more to be done.”
When any spraying is completed, he recommends people and their pets avoid the area for 24 hours.
Mr. Leyenaar added it’s often most productive to use a combination of both mechanical removal and chemical treatment.
Public Works director Ryan Morton pointed out the township’s mowers can’t always reach weeds in ditches. Because the mechanical process is time-consuming, by the time workers have completed the job, the weeds are already starting to return and “we’re back to square one.”
There is an increased prevalence of certain weeds in the township.
Mr. Leyenaar is particularly concerned about the presence of poison parsnip, a weed that can cause rashes and severe burns when the sap from the plants come in contact with skin.
This weed can also lead to increased disease in vegetation and reduce crop yields.
Mr. Leyenaar also noted the presence of phragmites in the region, saying while the plants are not noxious, they are invasive. In fact, the common reeds are rated as one of the worst invasive plants in Canada.
The wetland invaders can impede the movement of turtles and infiltrate farmers’ tile drainage. Last year the township budgeted for $2,000 for its weed removal program.
In some cases, pesticides were applied to protect employees from coming in contact with the noxious weeds.
Property owners who don’t want to have municipal land near them sprayed can put up a no-spray sign.
NASTY: Poison parsnip is one of the prime reasons North Glengarry is adding chemicals to its weed control arsenal.