City to limit use of pesticides

sing pesticides to curb nuisance weeds on city-owned and maintained public lands is slowly becoming a thing of the past. On Monday, council adopted a new policy that limits the use of pesticides on city-owned and maintained public land.

Using pesticides to curb nuisance weeds on city-owned and maintained public lands is slowly becoming a thing of the past.

On Monday, council adopted a new policy that limits the use of pesticides on city-owned and maintained public land.

Trevor Poth, Parks superintendent, said the new policy strikes the right balance by minimizing pesticide use while ensuring the beauty of the parks and health of the turf in Red Deer.

It places restrictions on where the city can spray including no closer than 30 metres from a play structure or school.

While it has been the city’s practice for 15 years not to spray sports fields that are on school sites, the new policy allows the opportunity to control sports fields that are in poor shape.

“It allows us go in and do some treatments as long as they remain 30 metres away from a school or playground,” said Poth.

The biggest change for residents may be in some neighbourhood closes with green areas that do not contain play structures. The city will no longer spray these sites.

The Environmental Master Plan (EMP) acts as a guiding document in the city’s play to reduce pesticide use.

Poth said the city has made great strides in reducing its usage even before the plan was adopted in 2011.

The parks department has reduced its use of pesticides per acre by 75 per cent over 25 years. The EMP calls for another 10 per cent reduction by 2035.

“The City of Red Deer in our parks use one eighth of the pesticides that the average resident would use on their same property,” said Poth.

The policy also addresses the need to continue to explore and test methods of weed control that do not rely on pesticides.

The city had considered a complete ban on city-operated land but no alternatives proved effective. Staff will continue to research and test alternative weed control methods.

“We found the best balance that we could given the products that are given today,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “I think the win in the future will be the commitment to continue to explore organics and non-chemical organics.”

On the dandelion front, Poth said the community is becoming more accepting of the ubiquitous weed within the parks.

“Unfortunately the only way we can treat them efficiently is using pesticides,” he said. “When we consider the trade off between pesticides and dandelions, the majority of the public is quite supportive of seeing dandelions if we’re not going to be spraying the parks.”

All pesticides used in the city are approved safe to use by Health Canada.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com