County of Wetaskiwin council discussed some concerns at their regular meeting Sept. 26 about some producers who didn’t like the way some weed complaints were handled.
The issue was presented to councilors by CAO Rod Hawken. Hawken presented information the agenda memo stated was gathered from Ag Services staff.
“At the August 7, 2019 meeting, the Agricultural Service Board was provided with the Weed Enforcement Process,” stated Hawken’s memo.
“At that time, the Board did not feel any changes needed to be made to the process and the ratepayers should be taking ownership of their weed infestations. The Board resolved to accept the Weed Enforcement Process as presented and that it be forwarded to Council for approval.
“At the August 13, 2019 Council General meeting Council was presented with the Weed Enforcement Process as Administration had been made aware of potential instances where landowners were suggesting changes be made to the current Weed Enforcement Process undertaken by the County. At the time, Council resolved to table the Weed Enforcement Process for clarification of process.
“On August 15, 2019 CAO Rod Hawken sent an email to the Director of Agricultural Services requesting additional information on the Weed Enforcement Process in the form of questions.
“The questions and answers are provided for Council’s review. Editot’s note: Due to space constraints, full questions and answers aren’t provided. Read the entire document online at https://wetaskiwincounty.escribemeetings.com/CG_Sep26_2019/eSCRIBE%20Documents/eSCRIBE%20Attachments/Weed%20Enforcement%20Process%20-%20Follow-up%20-%20092619%20CG%20-%20Report.pdf
“Q: Did the landowners receive any information (weed notice, warning, etc.) that advised what type of chemical was going to be applied and what the residual results of using that chemical might have on their operations?
“A: The landowners were not given any information regarding what herbicide was being used as each individual case is unique. The herbicide selected for control of noxious weeds (N) and eradication of prohibited noxious (PN) weeds is based on the weed species present on the property.
“Q: Did the County complete any enforcement on properties with only noxious weeds (those that require maintenance vs. eradication)?
“A: The County did not enforce on properties that only had noxious weeds. Every weed notice enforced in 2019 had either Orange Hawkweed or Meadow Hawkweed on them which are both Prohibited Noxious weeds.
“Q: What was the process to decide whether to spray or mow on properties that had both Prohibited Noxious and Noxious weeds?
“A: Legislation requires eradication of Prohibited Noxious weeds and control of Noxious weeds. Herbicides that control or eradicate PN weeds were selected for enforcement by Professionals who hold Pesticide Applicators Licenses and through consultation with Corteva Agriscience and Advantage Vegetation Management.
“Q: What type of chemical was used and why was it chosen? What is the residual for this chemical?
“A: Several herbicides were discussed when trying to decide which herbicide was best to use. The following criteria was used to select the most appropriate herbicide for the weeds that needed to be controlled or eradicated: A) Environmental profile B) Cost efficiency C) Herbicide registered for range and pasture applications D) Respective weeds listed as controlled on the herbicide label.
“Q: Does this chemical have any restrictions for use around animals such as cows, dogs, bees or other animals?
“A: Product labels available upon request, as there are a number of pages.
“Q: Are there any chemicals that control Prohibited Noxious or Noxious weeds that only have a one year residual?
“A: There are several hundred herbicides available to perform weed control. Not all herbicides are created equally. The products that control or eradicate weeds for a longer period of time cost more money to purchase and have residual carryover.”
Councilor Kathy Rooyakkers stated that ratepayers had contacted her and stated they weren’t happy with the lack of information provided them about weed spraying. She also said some of the producers preferred not to call the county office with their concerns.
Reeve Terry Van de Kraats said producers should bring their concerns forward as no one is going to be targeted in any way.
Rooyakkers continued that some producers felt the county had bad communication and used a “heavy handed” approach that wasn’t appreciated.
Councilors broke for lunch, but upon returning they continued this discussion. Plus, later in the meeting they moved “in camera” to discuss this issue privately.
No resolutions were made regarding this item.