When some ominous-looking notices of pending pesticide use went up in a Brookswood neighbourhood, there was a flurry of phone calls, emails and social media postings by people who thought the Township was planning to spray a residential area with potentially hazardous chemicals.
The announcements, stapled on some ash trees near 43 Avenue between 209 to 211 Streets, did not mention spraying, but they also didn’t make any reference to the Township plan to use tree injections instead of spraying to fight an aphid infestation.
Tree injection is a process where small holes are drilled into a tree so a pesticide or fertilizer can be inserted under pressure.
The written notices were posted Tuesday, the day before the planned application of Orthene.
The “Notice of Pesticide Use” included a warning against entering the treated areas “during application” of the pesticide.
Area resident Michelle Connerty said it was an alarming thing to see on her street, especially when she looked up Orthene online and found it “can cause breathing issues and irritate eyes and throats of those who inhale it.”
She said her initial posting on a Brookswood Facebook page drew over 100 comments almost instantly.
The next morning, she phoned the Township and was told there would be no spraying, a point that she feels should have been mentioned on the notices.
“The uncertainty about how it was going to be applied was huge for us,” Connerty said.
By Wednesday afternoon, Township Recreation, Culture, and Parks director David Leavers issued a statement saying the notices referred to an injection program, not spraying.
“Orthene will never be sprayed into the tree canopies [in Langley],” Leavers said.
The Township plans to treat 700 at-risk trees with injections in May and June.
Leavers said injecting is more effective because the pesticide is directly applied into the vascular tissue of the tree, which means that the pesticide is transported “more uniformly.”
“It is safer because the pesticide is contained within the tree and minimizes exposure to people, pets and wildlife, unlike spray applications where the product drips off the tree,” Leavers said.
The 700 trees are located in Murrayville, Brookswood, Walnut Grove, Northwest Langley (Derby Hills), and Aldergrove.
“Spraying has not occurred in any communities as part of this program,” Leavers said.
“This is the Township’s standard annual practice and is not comparable to the provincial gypsy moth spraying that has occurred in Surrey and Delta recently.”
Connerty intends to go to the next meeting of council to urge more advance notice should be given about pesticide applications, and the notices should specify whether spraying or injection will be used.