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"Frightening" chemicals in CN Rail plan

Village mayor and council move unanimously to request a less toxic method of vegetation management

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CN Rail’s proposed pest management plan (PMP) could spread a host of toxic chemicals into the Pemberton Valley and other areas of the Sea to Sky corridor including Squamish. The plan, which would extend until May 31, 2011, calls for both mechanical and chemical methods to control vegetation on tracks, rights-of-ways, crossings, station grounds, yards and buildings throughout the province.

Examining the list of proposed pesticides and herbicides, Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said, "Some of these chemicals are frightening."

The operator of North Arm Farms, Sturdy is well versed in the effects of chemical herbicides and pesticides and employs a natural approach to pest control on his farm.

The list of pesticides and herbicides include (by trade name) Amitrole, Garlon 4, Tordon 22K, Escort, Arsdenal, Roundup, Kamex, Vanquish, Transline, Telar and Krvoar. The chemicals will be applied via a variety of methods including backpack foliar, Radiarc and shrouded boom on a hi-rail vehicle and wick. In addition, foliage will be removed by cutting, mowing and power brush cutting.

Upon receiving the information pertaining to the pest management plan, both Pemberton council and staff expressed concern.

"In the past Electoral Area C has had some success with BC Rail with their pest management plan," noted Sturdy. "I believe they specified what chemicals that were allowed. There was also discussion of a steam management plan."

Director of Development Services, David Allen, a former employee of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD), explained that the process was cumbersome and costly.

"Ongoing litigation between BC Rail and SLRD did nothing but really delay the process. We had some, minor successes. The district spent upwards of $15,000 to get BC Rail’s pest management plan changed to less toxic chemicals," said Allen.

Lori Pilon, chief administrative office, concurred with the level of success, drawing on a similar experience she had had while working for the Village of Lions Bay.

"I propose that we respond (to CN Rail) that we prefer a mechanical method of weed control within the boundaries of the Village of Pemberton and failing that, a less toxic chemical," suggested the mayor.

On the suggestion of the director of development services, the phrase "less toxic chemicals" was altered to "chemicals that don’t bio-accumulate and do not persist in the environment."

The motion passed unanimously.

A draft copy of CN’s PMP with maps of proposed treatment areas can be viewed at the CN’s Surrey office. To arrange a viewing time call (866) 575-5321.

Copies of letters expressing concerns about the plan should be addressed to: Canadian National Railway Company, Box 13, Floor 5, 10229-127 Ave., Edmonton, Alberta, TSE 0B9, Attention: Roger Stenvold, Manager, Engineering Services

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