LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Chemical Spraying of County Roadsides – Ernie Spiller – November 9, 2009

Subject: Chemical Spraying of County Roadsides

When the United Counties of SD&G sprayed our roads to save us from Wild Parsnip during June of 2009, they did so against the advice of 4,000 Canadian physicians, Ontario registered nurses, the Canadian Cancer Society, the St. Lawrence River Restoration Council, local cyclists, and ourselves, Citizens for an Alternative to Roadside Spraying (CARS). We now hear from the press that they plan to spray in 2010 once again.

The spraying campaign was allowed under the Provinces new Pesticide Act only because SD&G claimed that wild (poison) parsnip was a “health and safety” risk to their employees, who might require access to the roadside as a “public work” (a definition that includes any road or highway). Without this exception the law of Ontario would have prevented the spraying that occurred.

CARS notes from the various articles in the media that the potential target in 2010 has been expanded to include such menaces as: poison hemlock, wild carrot, dog-strangling vine and giant hogweed. We do not find this switch away from the wild parsnip surprising as our investigation identified that no such health and safety risk has ever existed. The 2009 Safety Manual for SD&G employees contains no information related to any poisonous plants in its 59- pages and no special training on identifying poisonous plants and the appropriate safety precautions (long sleeved shirts, gloves, etc.) to avoid being injured, was provided. Our investigation revealed that since 2003, four years before spraying was re-introduced in 2007, no accident or incident has ever been reported related to the wild parsnip.

This information was provided to the CAO of the Counties, Mr. Mike Waddell, in July in our comprehensive report on their management of the wild parsnip situation. In a letter of August 1st CARS made positive recommendations as to how we might come to a resolution of the spraying issue. In good faith we have refrained from comment until now in the expectations of receiving some response from the staff of the United Counties.

Today, after three months of waiting and upon reading the announcement to the press of further spraying in 2010, we are sending copies of the report we commissioned and our subsequent recommendations to the Warden and Councilors of the United Counties Council and to each of the 6 Municipalities that comprise the SD&G. We will ask each municipal council to review this matter and make recommendations to their County representatives to discontinue the spraying. Next year is an election year for our municipal leaders and their position on this significant issue must be well known and publicized in advance of these elections.

Remember that NONE of these six municipalities use chemicals on their own roadsides, nor does the Province spray the roads for which it is responsible.

Yours truly,

Ernie Spiller

President, CARS

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1 Comment

  1. Further to Mr. Spiller’s comments I would also like to add that when the Counties Sprayed our roadsides they sprayed close to marshes and waterways. Sometimes within a few feet. The roadways close to these wetland areas are where snapping turtles lay their eggs. As was witnessed first hand this past year, the Counties sprayed at the precise time of the year when these turtles (designated a species at risk in 2008)laid their eggs. Surely those delicate new eggs would not have been able to grow in such a toxic environment. From my point of view it is MAN who is the ‘invasive species’ and MAN who is becoming, if not already considered a ‘health and safety’ risk to the earth which consequently affects each and every other living species. Shame on us!

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