The District of Sicamous is stepping up its mosquito control program this year, treating areas of concern that, in the past, were considered off limits.
Sicamous council has agreed to instruct the district’s mosquito control contractor, BWP Consulting Inc., to treat with larvicide certain “grey areas” near the waterfront, where water rises during freshet and drops again later in the summer.
Last summer, cooler than normal temperatures and higher snowpacks raised the level of the lake, flooding parking lots and green spaces that are normally dry. The contractor was prohibited by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans from treating those grey areas near the lake where abnormal flooding had released dormant mosquito hatches. This resulted in what some residents called the worst mosquito year in more than three decades.
At council’s May 7 meeting, district works services manager Grady MacDonald said the previous council wrote the same letter last year, but missed the window of opportunity for treatment.
“So we’re instructing the contractor to proceed with the treatment of these areas right from the get-go, so we don’t have a repeat of last year’s mosquito problem,” said MacDonald.
This prompted Coun. Fred Busch to ask, “Are we doing this with the permission of these agencies, or are we doing it without their permission, and if we’re doing it without their permission, who goes to jail?”
But in Mayor Darrell Trouton’s view, there’s nothing grey about what needs to be done, and he calls putting the onus on DFO and the province to respond a proactive approach.
“We’ve got a very good, solid point the way I read it,” says Trouton. “We send this letter off to the governing bodies to tell them this is what we’re doing. We’re treating it. If you feel that we’re going outside the law, then call us on it.”
Elaborating on the district’s strategy, interim administrator Doug Ruttan explained that in the past, the district would have to request permission from higher levels of government to treat particular problem areas with larvicide. Replies, he said, either arrived too late or not at all.
“I support this proactive approach,” said Coun. Charlotte Hutchinson. “I’d much rather see this than spreading malathion later. This is the way to go.”
Council was also agreeable to a suggestion by Coun. Greg Kyllo that $50,000 be set aside in future budgets to help deal with mosquitoes when they get out of hand and the district’s mosquito control budget has been depleted. He suggested creating the fund as a way of getting around council having an emergency meeting to try and find additional funding.
“We could look at establishing an additional $50,000 budget at the start of every season and, if it’s not expensed, say by Aug. 1, then it could be used for other programs…,” said Kyllo.
Ruttan was instructed to draft a policy that would accommodate the creation of such a contingency fund.
Trouton says the establishment of the fund will help ensure the contractor has what they need to do their job in extreme years.