Eliminate the use of Garlon for removal of trees and shrubs, say petitioners

Herbicide spraying by utilities has long been a contentious issue on Manitoulin Island. Expositor file photo

MINDEMOYA––Manitoulin Island is known for its beauty and pristine waters. A group of concerned citizens is advocating for municipalities to regain control of herbicide use, in particular the use of Garlon on roadsides and Hydro One right-of-ways, in order to “avoid more chemicals in our water and food supply,” said Square Bay resident Petra Wall. 

Ms. Wall spoke recently to Central Manitoulin’s Safety Security and Health Committee. “I’m afraid of the long term effects of Garlon spraying,” she said. “I am asking Central Manitoulin to put something in place. I am asking you (the municipality) to consider publishing a statement in lieu of an herbicide control bylaw which would state, ‘Central Manitoulin is opposed to utilities and ministries or agencies of other levels of government spraying herbicides within its jurisdiction purely for vegetation management purposes’.”

Ms. Wall asked Hydro One to “consider hiring and training students or other Islanders to cut down short trees and shrubs in the summer to give them work and discontinue the use of pesticides and herbicides.”

Councillor and committee chair Linda Farquhar suggested that someone draft a petition and canvas Central Manitoulin residents as to whether they are concerned with Garlon spraying in the municipality. Ms. Wall agreed to start the petition.

The petition states, “We are asking the provincial government to allow communities to regain control of chemical spraying on ‘rights of way’ for Hydro One. Central Manitoulin will be part of a coalition with Tehkummah, Billings and Assiginack that will seek to declare the municipality ‘pesticide free’ for use of Garlon RTU and other Garlon variants and similar herbicides in vegetation management on Hydro One Rights of Way. Garlon RTU’s active ingredient is triclopyr. Knowledgeable scientists say its persistence in the ground is at least one year and they are not clear about the long-term effects of this chemical in our food and water supply.”

It also states that, “Canadians have been kept out of the loop for too long. We have a right to clean air, water, soil and forests. We need to respect and protect this beautiful land and all of its amazing plant and animal life.”

“Central Manitoulin wishes to bring back the bees,” said Ms. Wall. “Part of that initiative is reducing chemical spraying of toxins.”

The petition can be found at Buie’s in Spring Bay, or in Mindemoya at Kat’s Pet Supplies, Manitoulin Espresso Bar and Maja’s. The petition can also be signed online at https://www.change.org/p/central-manitoulin-replace-garlon-spray-with-mechanical-removal-of-trees-and-shrubs-on-manitoulin.

The deadline to sign the petition is the first week of September.