Garlon is back – Hydro One seeks permission from landowners

by Alicia McCutcheon

EASTERN MANITOULIN—, Tehkummah and Central Manitoulin, may be in for a backlash.

The Expositor received word on Friday of last week that the herbicide had once again cropped up after Manitoulin’s last battle against Garlon XRT in June when the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) had announced its intended use. The same three municipalities passed resolutions against its use and the MTO came up with alternate methods of dealing with brush control.

In a letter to a Central Manitoulin citizen, Hydro One states that “right of way maintenance is scheduled for the hydro lines in the area where your property is located.”

“The work will be completed in two stages: the removal of non-compatible brush (under 10 centimetres in diameter at 1.2 metres of height) located on the Hydro right-of-way by manual or mechanical means,” the letter continues. “All brush will be chipped near manicured lawns and driveways or otherwise piled along bush lines. Compatible species such as sumac, dogwood, lilac, etc. will be avoided where practical. The second stage will see the pruning of branches away from power lines and the removal of any dead or hazardous trees. Any wood will remain on site.”

The letter goes on, noting that “cut stumps are treated with Garlon RTU. These are federal and provincially accepted herbicides used to control the suckering from the stumps of cut trees or brush. This same selective application m

ethod may be used to control the growth of non-compatible brush up to one meter in height.”

Dow AgroSciences, the maker of Garlon RTU, noted this about the herbicide on its website: “Toxic to aquatic organisms and non-target terrestrial plants. The use of this chemical may result in contamination of groundwater particularly in areas where soils are permeable (e.g. sandy soil) and/or where the depth to the water table is shallow.”

This has Manitoulin Streams coordinator Marcus Mohr worried.

“It’s highly detrimental to aquatic life and works counter to what Manitoulin Streams has been trying to accomplish,” he said. “There’s no soil to speak of on Manitoulin,” he observed, referring to Dow’s warning.

“The lack of notification and the timing is terrible,” he continued.

When contacted, Hydro One media relations spokesperson Nancy Shaddick explained that her company is currently working just outside of Manitowaning, south on Highway 6 to South Baymouth and west to Carter Bay.

“We are not applying Garlon RTU on any municipally owned land,” she told The Expositor. “Garlon will only be applied when the forestry technician deems it absolutely necessary and it will be a very small amount.”

Assiginack Reeve Bud Rohn had not heard about the spraying currently underway when initially contacted by The Expositor, but later learned that the municipality had indeed received notice from the forester in charge.

“I don’t think it’s right, but I don’t think there’s anything we can do,” he said. “I think it’s very sneaky to go that route, especially after we passed a resolution stating that Garlon should not be sprayed anywhere in this municipality.”

“We definitely don’t want it here,” Central Manitoulin Reeve Gerry Strong said of Garlon. “Council already passed a resolution on this. We will go after Hydro to stop it. I’m taken aback, but I don’t think it’s unusual that they haven’t notified us.”

Ms. Shaddick assured The Expositor that Central Manitoulin was indeed informed in 2010 of the process. She also noted that Providence Bay would undergo scheduled maintenance in 2012.

“We’re definitely not happy,” Mr. Strong added.

Central Manitoulin clerk Ruth Frawley noted that council has two resolutions on the Garlon issues. Both were directed to Hydro One and date from August 2002 and June 2008.

Tehkummah Reeve Gary Brown said his municipality had not received notice, but he had personally. Mr. Brown had told Hydro One not to use Garlon on his own property, but he guessed it was in the hands of the individual property owners like himself.

“It’s a funny thing: the government seems to be pushing that on us all of the time,” he said. “I know I don’t want it around anything I own.”