It’s been five years, but the exemption is about to be used.
The city’s bylaw to regulate the cosmetic use of pesticides was enacted in 2009 and amended in 2011.
It contains several exemptions, 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.”
That time has come, says Rob Niewenhuizen.
Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, told city council Monday at its annual budget meeting that alternative methods are not working.
Coun. Alan Harrison had pointed out that the city is having trouble with vegetation growing between sidewalks and curbs.
“It seems like every year we’re going to spend more money on it. What do we do to be more efficient?”
Niewenhuizen 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.
He said two students were pulling weeds, which was successful – 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,” Niewenhausen said.
Staff will use Touchdown Total Herbicide, a water soluble herbicide containing 36.9 per cent glyphosate.
Drafting the pesticide bylaw was a long process for the city.
Some residents began requesting a bylaw years earlier, with a group of physicians lobbying council in 2007. At that time they warned council of the detrimental health effects of pesticides, including glyphosate, particularly on children.