Dysart imposes Garlon ban

By Chad Ingram

The Municipality of Dysart et al willimpose a ban on the use of powerful herbicide Garlon.

Back at an April council meetingcouncillors supported a recommendation from the municipality'senvironment and climate change committee that Hydro One be advisedthat the use of Garlon would be prohibited within Dysart et al.

However that direction was thendelayed with some members of the committee recommending that HydroOne be given a year's time to find a suitable alternative solution.

During an Aug. 27 meeting of Dysart etal council Mayor Andrea Roberts pointed out that until recently shewasn't aware of what Garlon was and of the concerns around its use.

“[The committee] made arecommendation I'd never heard of it didn't know what wasinvolved” Roberts said adding that council had supported theresolution at the April meeting.

Garlon is used to kill small trees andwoody plants and is used by Hydro One to control the growth of brushalong power line corridors. It is not permitted for residential use.

“Then we had a delegation from Hydroto the environment committee and unfortunately it didn't come toall of council so it may not have been well-received in the press orall of council might not have understood Hydro's responsibility”Roberts said. “ . . . They talked about what equipment they have towear they were arborists these are extremely trained people . . .it is not air-spraying . . . it is done very particularly. It was afulsome delegation to the environment committee which probablychanged some people's opinion in terms of the time period . . . Ithink it was always a decision of council to do something onpesticides and herbicides.”

Roberts explained the environmentcommittee had then proposed a setback from waterbodies of 300 metres.The current setback for Garlon use by Hydro One is just three metresfrom water.

“It was the thought of theenvironment committee of some of the members not all of them wehaven't had a recorded vote that we give Hydro a year” Robertssaid adding the municipality was not trying to hide information fromanyone.

Earlier in the meeting council hearddelegations from the presidents of two lake associations requestingthe municipality enforce a Garlon ban immediately.

Rick Wesselman is president of the Dragand Spruce Lakes Property Owners' Association.

“For most of the summer the issue ofGarlon sort of flew under the radar” Wesselman said adding theassociation supported a ban. “It's unfortunate that lakeassociations haven't had time enough to discuss this with members.”

Wesselman noted the toxic properties ofGarlon its effects on aquatic life and also questioned the healthimplication of people picking berries in areas where Garlon has beensprayed or hunters taking animals who've been feeding in areas wherethe chemical has been applied.

While Councillor John Smith who firstbrought the issue of a potential Garlon ban to the committee back inFebruary said earlier this year he'd received verbal confirmationfrom a rep at Hydro One that the herbicide would not be usedWesselman said residents have observed it being used as has Smithhimself he said.

Wesselman said a ban was supported by anumber of other lake associations in the county.

Percy Lake Ratepayers' Associationpresident Anna Tillman also urged council to proceed with the bannoting the toxicity and long half-life of Garlon and adding that itsuse has been banned by Hydro One in a number of other Ontariocommunities.

Council chambers were full for thepresentation on Garlon.

Roberts said perhaps council neededmore information from provincial and federal environment ministriesbefore making a decision.

“I think this is a bigger issue than. . . perhaps this table is able to make [a decision on]” shesaid.

“If it's such a terrible thing . . .why does the government allow it?” she added.

Councillor Larry Clarke pointed outthat Garlon is not the only harmful chemical herbicide and suggestedthat council should getting more information and then create a larger more comprehensive ban on all herbicides and pesticides deemed tootoxic for use.

“This was first raised in April . . .we gave them [Hydro One] an opportunity to come and explain to us”Clarke said adding that the utility had been asked to identifyalternative products that would not be harmful to local lakes orresidents.

If the municipality were to enforce aban on Garlon alone “we start the process again with the nextchemical and the next chemical” he said reinforcing hispreference for starting work on a larger herbicide ban.

“To be clear my position on thishasn't changed” said Smith advocating for all-out ban. Inresponse to Roberts positing that the provincial government stillpermitted the use of Garlon Smith said “They don't look at theneeds of specific communities” adding that's why the Municipal Actgave local governments the authority to make such decisions.

“We know of one major industrial userin this county and it's Hydro One and let's stop that immediately”Smith said as residents in the gallery cheered and applauded.

“This is not a theatre it's acouncil meeting” Roberts said asking attendees to refrain fromapplauding during council proceedings.

Councillor Tammy Donaldson wanted toknow why reps from Hydro One hadn't visited council as a whole.

“Why wasn't Hydro here to answer thequestions?” Donaldson asked.

“They were only at the environmentcommittee” Roberts said.

Another recommendation from theenvironment and climate change committee came to the council tablethat a 300-metre buffer be established and that Hydro One be givenuntil the end of 2020 to come up with an alternative. That motion wasdefeated by council meaning the support of the April motioninstructing Hydro One to cease use of Garlon will stand.

Smith asked that the utility immediately stop using the chemical and the issue of larger banon toxic herbicides will go back to the committee.