Kimberley City Council has agreed to investigate alternatives to chemical use for the removal of invasive plants after two Kimberley residents wrote into the City citing concerns about the use of herbicides.
Residents Rob Krausz and Sandrine Roy wrote to Council asking them to “show leadership by immediately ordering the ceasing of all use of glyphosate, as well as other herbicide products.”
“[Herbicide products] are by their nature toxic, an unpleasant and harmful pollutant of our air and water, and contrary to this community’s aspirational image as a safe, environmentally sustainable place to live,” wrote Krausz and Roy.
Council discussed the letter at length at a regular meeting on Monday, stating that there are many factors that come into play in regards to the use of herbicides, most specifically the rapid increase and spreading of non-native invasive weeds.
Council agreed to have staff investigate options that don’t involve chemicals, as well as find out more information about the herbicides being used, which will be discussed at a Committee of the Whole Meeting this fall.
Manager of Operations Chris Mummery explained that the City has entered into a three year agreement with the company that provides the herbicides, which started this year.
CAO Scott Sommerville adds that back in 2009 a bylaw was passed that banned herbicide use, with exceptions for the City and commercial agencies.
He cautioned Council that without the use of herbicides, the City could be “overrun” with invasive species.
Councillor Darryl Oakley says he is concerned with the chemicals used in herbicides, and would like to move away from using them. He adds that more information is needed before they can come up with a solution.
Councillor Kyle Dalum agreed, and suggested the use of target goat grazing.
Councillor Kent Goodwin, who was Acting Mayor while Mayor Don McCormick was away for business, says that the topic needs to be discussed with staff before a decision can be made.
“There are a bunch of pieces to this including the use of chemicals and invasive plants. A different approach will require a lot of information and discussion to re-asses how the City deals with invasive plants and herbicides,” he said. “We should include biologists and ecologists [in the discussion] because a big part of it is non-native invasive plants. It’s quite a complex issue.”
Chief Financial Officer Jim Hendricks suggested bringing in a representative from the RDEK to discuss invasive plant management specifically.
Councillor Nigel Kitto says that Council is concerned and taking the matter seriously.
“We’re definitely concerned. The problem of invasive weeds is huge, so we’re concerned to take the chemicals out for that reason. We will continue to look for solutions, we’re taking this very seriously,” he said.
Goodwin says that the Kimberley Nature Park is a particularly bad area for invasive weeds.
“I’m not sure we’re winning the battle [now],” he said. “This may have to become a little broader, are we putting enough resources to this now?”