Continuing questions on herbicide use in Kimberley

The use of herbicides in Kimberley has been in the news this summer, as some residents have questioned City Council on herbicide use.

READ: Council to investigate alternatives to use of herbicides

READ: LETTER: City of Kimberley should issue immediate moratorium on herbicides

Rob Krausz and Sandrine Roy wrote a letter requesting an immediate moratorium on herbicide use in Kimberley. After penning the first letter, they followed up with City Council. They allege that there is evidence that “a funding relationship exists between a multinational manufacturer of herbicides and the regional invasive species council, and that at the same time, Kimberley has selected this same company as a preferred supplier of herbicides.

“There is clearly an appearance of pressure/influence from industry at play here, that seems to be driving Kimberley City Council towards continued herbicide use, at a time when the environmental and health risks of these chemical products have compelled other communities to discontinue their use.”

Krausz and Roy say that there is a funding relationship between the East Kootenay Invasive Species Council (EKISC) and Dow AgroSciences, a company that manufactures herbicides. Further, they have asked the city if it considers it appropriate that it selects as its preferred herbicide, products sold by the company that funds the agency with which it is partnered in regard to weed control?

“Would it be reasonable to conclude that the EKISC is in a position of conflict of interest with regard to assessing the public safety of herbicide use, given that it receives funding from a chemical company that produces these products and sells them to local governments (and/or their contractors) within their jurisdiction?”

Kendal Benesh, Program Manager for EKISC, replied by email to City Council and Krausz and Roy, with the following:

“EKISC is a regional non-profit society and delivery agent focused on integrated management for the control and eradication of priority Invasive Species.

“The annual operating budget of the society is approximately $900,000, and our primary funders include the Province of British Columbia ($423,000), Columbia Basin Trust ($150,500), and Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program ($31,000). Please visit our webpage at www.ekisc.com to view our latest Annual Report for a detailed list of funders. DOW AgroSciences does not fund operations of EKISC, and has never been in a funding or partnership agreement with EKISC. However the society has received nominal sponsorship support (e.g., $500-$1,000) from DOW AgroSciences in the past for specific events including the Annual General Meetings held in spring of each year.

“EKISC is primarily responsible for the planning, coordination and monitoring of Crown land invasive plant treatments under direction from the land managers we work with. Through well-established partnerships with organizations and government, our organization is able to focus resources on an integrated management strategy. EKISC uses this coordinated and integrated approach for the control of invasive species that includes chemical, mechanical, and cultural treatment strategies. Education plays a crucial role in raising awareness of the economic, social and environmental challenges and impacts of invasive species. EKISC offers a diversity of outreach and training opportunities, including community hand pull events, introductory and professional level courses on Invasive Species Identification and management.

“At the present time EKISC does not have a partnership agreement with the City of Kimberly, however we would appreciate this opportunity to collaborate on educational and treatment opportunities in the future.”

Councillor Kent Goodwin also responded to the question, saying “To my knowledge the City of Kimberley has never been lobbied or influenced by any herbicide manufacturer.”

City CAO Scott Sommerville clarified the City’s policy on herbicides.

“Kimberley was a front-runner in our region when it adopted a pesticide and herbicide bylaw in 2009,” he said. “In 2010, Kimberley was one of only 14 communities that had by-laws that ban the cosmetic use of pesticides use on both residential and municipal lands. (Pesticide Free BC, 2010).

“Bylaw No. 2381 does allow for the use of herbicides on noxious weeds as defined in the Weed Control Act.

“As part of the City’s Invasive Plant Management Program, the City hires licensed contractors to apply a variety of herbicides. That the contractor feels are most effective, depending on the time of year, noxious species, and location. Clearview is a preferred herbicide of the contractor because it does not kill established native grass species.

“Council has recently directed staff to look into alternative options for pesticides being used within the City of Kimberley. This report to council will come to committee meeting in the fall.

“The City thanks the volunteers that organize work parties to pull invasive species out of the ground.

“The battle against invasive species such as Blueweed, Japanese Knotweed, and Spotted Knapweed cannot be won without the assistance of herbicides.

“Council has recently directed staff to look into alternative options for pesticides being used within the City of Kimberley. This report to council will come to committee meeting in the fall.”

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