Going after Garlon herbicide use in Dysart

By Chad Ingram

Dysart et al council may consider restrictions on the use of Garlon a powerful herbicide used to kill trees and weeds.

Councillors broached the topic during a July 23 meeting. The use of Garlon had been discussed during a June meeting of the municipality’s environment and climate change committee the minutes from which were reviewed at last week’s council meeting.

The minutes show a local pest control company is advocating for what it calls the responsible use of Garlon specifically for the control of beech bark disease which is killing beech trees in the county.

“This is a terminal disease that spreads before each tree dies” minutes from the committee meeting read. “Infected beech trees will send out seed and create beech thickets which choke out biodiversity in the area. Garlon when applied to beech suckers kills the root system and allows for other species to grow.”

At the same committee meeting a resident gave a delegation regarding his discomfort with the use of Garlon which is often used by Hydro One to control plant growth interfering with hydro operations near waterbodies due to the harmful effect it can have on aquatic life and ecosystems.

Councillor John Smith who’s spoken against the use of Garlon in the past said he’d had conversations with Hydro One about its use within Dysart et al.

“Right now they have no plan to use Garlon this year anywhere in Dysart” Smith said adding that didn’t mean plans wouldn’t change throughout the year.

Smith went on to say there are some municipalities which have banned the use of Garlon altogether.

“Those are frankly areas that are like ours” he said explaining these municipalities also contain a high number of waterbodies.

Councillor Larry Clarke said that Hydro One has a job to do in keeping a reliable electricity grid alive and that perhaps instituting a setback – the example he gave was 300 metres – from water rather than an all-out ban was the way to deal with Garlon use.

Councillor Walt McKechnie questioned how much damage Garlon was really doing to local lakes compared to gasoline from boats and lawn fertilizers.

“How much damage is that really doing versus a few drops of Garlon?” McKechnie said. “I realize Garlon’s got the label it kills everything. What are we banning next?”

Mayor Andrea Roberts who noted she thought the biggest concerns was proximity from waterbodies also seemed to favour setbacks over a total ban.

The issue is set to go on the agenda at a subsequent environment and climate change committee meeting.