The district will be looking at amending its pest management plan to better facilitate fogging for mosquitoes in extreme conditions.
At their July 27 committee of the whole meeting, Sicamous council (with the exception of Couns. Charlotte Hutchinson and Heidi Dewit) agreed to have district administrator Alan Harris report back on a recommendation to amend the pest management plan to allow for fogging with the provision of 48-hours notice. This would apply to areas where fogging does not come into conflict with provincial regulations protecting fish habitat, and/or down residential neighbourhoods (but not on private property) where neighbours have provided approval in advance.
“What the district would do is probably advertise on the website and the district newsletter that mosquito season is fast approaching and if you don’t want your property fogged, please come and sign a petition against,” explained Harris. “So we’ll have the petition against on file and when staff go out and fog, they look at it and avoid that property.”
The recommendation was the result of a lengthy discussion over concerns raised by Coun. Fred Busch with regard to the current petition process, which requires 100 per cent approval of residents and the passing of a provincially-required bite count (three bites in one minute) before a neighbourhood can be fogged.
Busch noted how it took him two weeks to complete a petition in his neighbourhood and, when it was complete, the bite count didn’t meet the requirement.
“If we’re going to fog, I’d like to see some way to speed the process up,” said Busch. “I didn’t have anybody on the street saying no. Nobody even questioned it. Nobody even said what are you using. As far as they’re concerned, we could be using a 12-gauge shotgun and they wouldn’t care. Just get rid of the damned mosquitoes so we can sit in our backyard.”
Harris noted that under the province’s Integrated Pest Management Regulations, there is language that allows for the provision of 48-hours notice (72 in school zones) prior to fogging. He noted the district’s current management plan makes it difficult to fog because of health and environmental concerns people have over the chemical used – Malathion. Hutchinson shares these concerns, and spoke against changing the current plan. She said she realizes mosquitoes are troublesome to many, including herself, but she argued that fogging is dangerous.
“It’s unhealthy, it kills fish and it kills bees…,” said Hutchinson “This will go away, this too will pass, and I don’t think we should do anything in a knee-jerk reaction.”
Mayor Malcolm MacLeod was in agreement with Hutchinson, and said the problem will take care of itself.
“The idea of fogging, it’s bad news,” said MacLeod, noting how Malathion has been found to peel the paint off motor vehicles.
MacLeod said that larvaciding, which utilizes a naturally occurring bacteria that specifically targets mosquito larvae, is the most important thing the district can do. He assured the district would continue to treat areas known to be infested with mosquito larvae – areas that, until recently were off-limits under federal regulation.
Asked what other areas currently fog, Harris said there are none.
“We’re going backwards here by messing with the fogging,” replied MacLeod.
Coun. Lynn Miller said that if the district continues to larvacide as it now can, and mosquitoes don’t become an issue, then there will be no need to fog.
“We probably won’t ever have this situation again but, having said that, we honestly don’t know if what we have done would have solved the initial onset of mosquitoes, because they were at such a level that was never anticipated,” replied Harris. “So the amount of larvaciding used may not have dealt with that.”
Harris said that it’s staff’s position that the district not fog. However, he said that if it’s going to be done, the district should be able to do it when it’s needed, as opposed to putting undue constraints on property owners when the bite count is met.
Harris also mentioned that, contrary to comments in emails he’s received, the district did not fog Main Street prior to the Sturgis North burnout competition.
Busch was supportive of the recommendation, recognizing that nothing can be done this year.
“I just want to bring some reality to our pest management plan…,” said Busch. “It should be feasible instead of having this sort of run-around that we have to do right now.”