Jean Cottam


Regarding “City to spray wild parsnip this summer” by Emma Jackson, which item appeared in the Kanata Kourier-Standard on May 8, 2015, I am concerned that the City plans to spray  herbicides in suburban areas this summer, but this seems unavoidable.  Wild parsnip is a newly-classified noxious weed, found mainly in ditches and fields, alongside more than 200 kilometres of rural roads as well as pathways, in parks and woodlots. It may cause painful blisters as well as long-term skin discolouration. It cannot be killed by a lawnmower.

This kind of  noxious weed is currently found mainly in Manotick, Barrhaven, Stittsville and Kanata, but is spreading east of the Ottawa River, according to the city’s  public works general manager Kevin Wylie. The province has very limited experience in dealing with this weed, since it had been added to the provincial noxious group only in January of this year. The City of Ottawa is attempting to limit the spread of the wild parsnip with aggressive mowing this year, but this alone will not eliminate the weed completely. This is why the City is planning to apply herbicides that have been previously used with success in the municipalities of Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry and Leeds-Grenville to the south of Ottawa. Leeds-Grenville used herbicide Clearview as a pilot project last year. It kills broadleaf plants without harming grass. The contractor is allowed to choose the chemical to be applied.

According to Wylie the city will consult with Ottawa Public Health and the province to determine which herbicides are to be applied this summer and at which locations. The spraying will begin before the end of June, as soon as the wild parsnip begins to flower. The contractors applying herbicides are to stay away from the populated areas. Instead only aggressive mowing will be applied near Barrhaven and in areas where children are playing. The spraying may take place near rural housing, but Wylie explains that homeowners may call the city to opt out.

Presence of wild parsnip may be reported by calling the 311 information line. The city plans to spend $100,000 out of its budget for the 2015 spraying program.

K. Jean Cottam


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