| Oct 05, 2006

Feature Article - October 5, 2006

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Feature Article - October 5, 2006

Loughborough Lake residents oppose Hydro One pesticide application

by Jeff Green

Residents living on the north shore of Loughborough Lake gathered last Sunday at the Loughborough Lake bridge for an information demonstration in response to a herbicide spraying program being undertaken by Hydro One Forestry under hydro lines adjacent to their properties. In some locations, the spraying is taking place within 15-20 metres of the shore of the lake, and along wetlands that feed it.

Although residents have made little headway in trying to get the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to step in, South Frontenac council did take action this week.


The herbicide triclopyr, under the brand name Garlon 4, is used by Hydro One to kill unwanted broadleaf plants under their lines. It is often used when brushing is taking place to suppress grow back. Garlon 4 is commonly used throughout North America on pastures, woodlands and rights or way.

Susan Radford, of Long Pond Farms on North Shore Road first found out that spraying was taking place on Monday, September 25th. She immediately approached a Hydro One Contractor who was doing the spraying and asked him to stop, which he did.

Radford told the News that she communicated with several officials from Hydro One last week.

“They told me that they would try to avoid spraying on my property, and on properties whose owners contact them to ask them to stop, but that they have permission from the MoE to spray under their lines, and that they aren’t harming anything. The problem is that Garlon 4 is not safe when used around lakes or wetlands. It even says so on the label.”

A Hydro One worker gave a label from the herbicide package to Susan Radford. The label says that “Garlon 4 is not registered for application to water surfaces including lakes, ponds, and streams and is highly toxic to fish, aquatic plants and aquatic invertebrates.”

The label goes on to stipulate buffer zones around such sensitive areas.

Even though residents say the spraying is taking place within extremely close proximity to wetlands, Christine Brown from the Kingston Office of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MoE) said that, “Hydro One has informed the ministry of the surface water setback in this case and this is acceptable to the ministry.”

In response to repeated requests from residents to inspect the North Shore road spraying program, Brown said that the MoE has conducted a site visit and has reviewed Hydro One’s pesticide application, including on the North Shore Road and has not seen evidence of impact from the spraying operation.

Susan Radford, and the people who conducted the protest last Sunday, argue that there are potential impacts from this kind of spraying, including impacts on well water, and Radford points out that if she had not intervened, spraying would have taken place on her land where her son has a bee keeping operation.

Although Garlon 4 is commonly used throughout Ontario and Canada , there have been cases where it has been prohibited on environmental grounds.

In 1997, its use was prohibited by an environmental tribunal in a case in British Columbia because of fears over its impact on groundwater. It cannot be sold in five states in the United Sates, including California .

Council weighs in

At the Sunday afternoon protest, Councillor Peter Roos, Deputy Mayor Ron Vandewal and Mayor Bill Lake were in attendance, and Ron Vandewal raised the matter at the October 3 council meeting.

“Why don’t we ask AMO [The Association of Municpalities of Ontario] to look into whether there is an alternative to pesticide spraying in Hydro right of ways?” Vandewal asked.

Peter Roos suggested that the township use bulk mailing to send a letter to everyone in the township who lives on a road that is scheduled for spraying, to inform them that Hydro One will refrain from spraying on hydro rights of way on or adjacent to their properties if they make such a request.

As Roos’ proposal was being written up as a motion, township Public Works Manager Bill Blum said that council could decide to tell Hydro One not to spray in South Frontenac at all.

“If that’s what council wants to happen, it would be the simplest measure,” Blum said.

So, a motion was prepared rescinding permission for Hydro One to spray Garlon 4 in South Frontenac.

Before a vote was held on the motion, Portland councillor Don Smith asked, “If they are only hand spraying, then they spray right on the plants that they want to get rid of. So what’s the problem?”

The motion was approved, with only Smith casting a dissenting vote.

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