Dysart et al’s Environment Committee is recommending a temporary end to the ban preventing Hydro One from spraying the toxic herbicide Garlon in the municipality.

The committee voted Aug. 8 to recommend Hydro One be given until 2021 to come up with alternatives to using the substance for vegetation control. In the meantime, the setback from water bodies for the chemical’s use would be 300 metres.

Council must approve the recommendation before it comes into force.

“You don’t stop something just overnight,” committee member and Coun. Larry Clarke said. “You got responsibilities. The way I look at it, Hydro One’s got responsibilities for protecting those corridors.”

Clarke referred to a presentation made by Hydro One to the committee May 16. Hydro One argued alternatives to their use of Garlon, which they use to prevent trees from extending into power lines, are not more environmentally-friendly. Hydro One said machinery like chainsaws, which they would use instead, are polluters.

Mayor Andrea Roberts said the municipality has to consider the concerns of both lake associations and Hydro One.

“That’s a very reasonable compromise,” Roberts said of the resolution.

Garlon has fallen under scrutiny for several months, as the product is known to be highly toxic to aquatic habitats if it gets into water bodies. That prompted Dysart et al to ban Hydro One’s use of the substance April 23.

Committee chair John Smith highlighted the health and environmental risks associated with Garlon. He also referred to a series of messages from local lake associations who spoke out against the chemical.

“People care so much about this and there’s so much emotion involved,” Smith said.

Redstone Lake Cottagers Association past president Harvey Bates has spoken out about Garlon and previously presented to the committee about it. He questioned whether this would really incentivize Hydro One to find new alternatives.

“It’s a part measure, it’s kind of a goodwill gesture that lets them off the hook in Haliburton,” Bates said.

Haliburton Lake Cottagers’ Association (HLCA) president Glenn Scott voiced opposition to Garlon in an email to the committee.

“The HLCA does not support the use of Garlon by Hydro One. As an association we simply do not wish to accept the risk of known or unknown consequences in the use of Garlon, to our greatest asset or wildlife, which may not surface for years,” Scott said.

Hydro One media relations spokesperson Richard Francella said the company cares deeply about community safety, including environmental stewardship.

“We remain committed to working with the Dysart et al community to develop an approach that follows the parameters set up by the municipality,” he said.

Coun. Walt McKechnie, who agreed with the resolution delaying the ban, said everybody cares about lake health. But he added he would like to see evidence of Garlon and other contaminants getting into Haliburton’s lake waters.

“I know there has been many, many, many water tests done on all our lakes, thank goodness. I’m just wondering in those tests, is there evidence? Is there a way to tell?”

Dysart et al council is next scheduled to meet Aug. 27.

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