Billings council rescinds Hydro One Garlon motion

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

KAGAWONG—Billings township has rescinded a previous motion that gave approval to Hydro One to use the herbicide spray Garlon RTU for its regular vegetation maintenance in the community.

“There has been a lot of concerns raised by local residents and we want to accommodate those concerns and consider the issue again,” said Billings Mayor Austin Hunt, at a council meeting Tuesday.

A motion was put forward by councillors Sharon Alkenbrack and Barb Erskine to  have the previous motion rescinded. By passing this motion it means the issue remains in limbo, the township has not given Hydro One approval to use Garlon spray, and allows for council to debate the issue further before coming to a final decision.

“I’m anxious to see what other townships are doing on this issue,” said Mayor Hunt.

As reported in the April 14, 2017 edition of the Recorder the Billings township council chambers was packed with a large delegation of local residents imploring council to change its mind on giving approval to Hydro One to use the herbicide Garlon RTU for its regular vegetation maintenance in the community, at the previous council meeting.

Pat Hess made a presentation to council at the previous meeting. He questioned what assurances council has that the Hydro One workers using the spray are properly trained in, and using the spray properly. And he questioned that if someone calls into Hydro One requesting that no spray be used adjacent to their property, how it can be assured these chemicals will not reach neighbouring properties.

Mr. Hess had explained, that Garlon RTU contains the active ingredient “Triclopyr,” made by Dow Chemical, the same company that manufactured Agent Orange, a defoliant used to kill and disfigure hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese and Americans including children and the elderly during the Vietnam war, and there has been many cases of Agent Orange exposure on Canadian military bases.”

Mr. Hess further explained that after doing some research on toxicology reports the chemical Triclopyr has many other negative effects on other “non-target” plants, animals and humans. Some of the adverse side effects include: allergic skin reactions, increase in the incident of breast cancer, genetic damage called dominant lethal mutations, reproductive problems, highly toxic to fish, inhibits behaviours in frogs that help them avoid predators, decreases the survival of bird nestlings, inhibits the growth of mycorrhizal fungi (which helps plants absorb nutrients), disrupts the normal growth and development of the nervous system, accumulates in fetal brains when pregnant animals are exposed.

As well, Mr. Hess had informed council Triclopyr has many by-products and he provided a  long list of health hazards relating to this.

Mr. Hess, who attended this past Tuesday’s council meeting said, “I’m happy with how it (the council meeting) went. I think (council’s action) is progress.”