Informative SSEA report attracts Tay council like moth to a flame

·3 min read

Rain is wet, the sun rises in the east, and the cost to aerial spray insecticide over a municipality would cost millions.

An information survey was provided by the Severn Sound Environmental Association (SSEA) to member municipalities, to share insight on how some Ontario municipalities had tackled invasive species of moths through insecticide spray programs.

Gypsy moths have been a subject of heartbreak and frustration since the 2019 outbreak, not only for area residents but on a provincial scale as the caterpillar infestations devour forests at a rapid pace.

In early summer, SSEA staff conducted an Ontario jurisdictional review of the aerial Btk (Bacillus thuringiensis ‘kurstaki’) insecticide application with four participating municipalities: Hamilton, London, Pelham, and Toronto. Interviews with staff and supplemental information were compiled for the SSEA information report, along with data and statistics in those areas interviewed.

The report was added as correspondence received within the regular meeting of Tay council. Additionally, the SSEA stated within the report itself that it was to be intended “for information purposes only” and that it was not an exhaustive study.

Some members of Tay council made comments for the parts which caught their attention, mostly relating to how Btk spray programs for Tay would compare to cities such as Toronto or Hamilton.

Coun. Barry Norris spotted the cost breakdown for Toronto, which indicated in the report that their 2020 budget for aerial spraying was $28,000. According to the City of Toronto website, a small area of 26 hectares was sprayed by aerial application in 2020.

“That’s like sending the Weed Man out,” quipped Norris. “Just to put the record clear here, you’re looking at millions to do right across the municipality (of Tay). I just didn’t want to get everyone excited that (the SSEA) is recommending we pay to have our forests all sprayed.”

Coun. Paul Raymond commented that the correspondence seemed to convey a very informal survey of agricultural area residents in those four municipalities, who held mixed responses toward Btk aerial applications.

“One of the conclusions that came out of the discussions,” said Raymond, “was that it should be a county endeavour and not taken onto any local municipality due to the costs; and the cost-sharing would be a lot easier if it was handled at the county level.”

Mayor Ted Walker, who stated outright he was not in favour of spraying anything due to health concerns regarding breathing conditions for some members of the population, informed council that the SSEA was asked at the county level to return early next year with a detailed study on the options and costs.

“I agree with you one hundred percent,” stated Walker, referring to assertions that the county covers the cost of such a project. “I can tell you that it will be in the tens of millions of dollars, from what I’ve seen with some other prices local municipalities have received.”

The SSEA correspondence explicitly stated that it is not meant to support or endorse products and/or services of contractors by the SSEA, and that the decision to organize and implement a spray program is ultimately left up to property owners, including municipalities.

Information from the SSEA correspondence, “Survey of Municipal Aerial Btk Spray Programs for Ldd Moth”, can be viewed within the agenda from the Tay regular meeting.

Tay council meets for regular council meetings every fourth Wednesday of the month. Further information including council’s agenda can be found on the Tay township website.

To learn more about the gypsy moth life cycle and species identification, videos on the insect are available on the Severn Sound Environmental Association’s YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca

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