The controversial herbicide Roundup will continue to be used in Port Alberni, but sparingly and in selected areas only, says the city’s parks and recreation director.
Scott Kenny presented a report at Monday’s council meeting on where Roundup has been used since the ban was reversed earlier this year. From March 18 to July 22, 8.9 litres of the product were used at a number of city sites including Klitsa baseball fields, Echo Park, Harbour Quay and various streets to control weeds in parking lots, sidewalks and tracks. Kenny said the city would normally use approximately eight litres in a year, but is using more this year because of the abundance of weeds that have grown since it was banned. In 2012, the city used 50.35 litres of Eco Clear, which is 25 per cent acetic acid, which is vinegar.
“We are very careful and very selective on where we use it,” Kenny said about Roundup. “It’s not something we use in sports fields.”
The report was was drawn up at the request of Coun. Dan Washington after Coun. Wendy Kerr expressed her opposition of the use of Roundup at the July 22 city council meeting, where she expressed disappointment with council for reversing the ban. Kerr was absent the day that ban was reversed. She said it was the Canadian Cancer Society that spearheaded the original ban on Roundup, citing cancer concerns.
“I just plainly believe this is like how 60 years ago cigarettes were considered safe and okay to use,” Kerr said. “I think as a community we have a lot of health concerns. Port Alberni is known for its huge infant mortality rate and increases in autism.”
Glyphosate is an active ingredient in Roundup and according to the Sierra Club, glyphosate has been shown to kill beneficial insects and can cause destruction of red blood cells, lung dysfunction and kidney damage. A study of Ontario farmers found those using glyphosate had an increase of miscarriages and premature births within their families.
The Sierra Club’s website states the chemical itself has been considered safe in various tests done by others, but when used within the community, “a different result has emerged.”
The Province of B.C. conducted studies on Roundup and did not ban it, which was one reason why the ban in Port Alberni was discontinued.
Coun. Cindy Solda countered that just about everything is believed to cause cancer or other ailments these days.