The City of Castlegar is moving away from using herbicide in parks.
City council has approved a new policy that would prohibit the use of herbicides in passive parks, playgrounds and green spaces but allow the use herbicides, on an as-needed basis, on sports fields.
The sports fields that would still be eligible for herbicide use are the soccer fields at Millennium Park, the fields at the Castlegar Community Complex and the ball fields at Kinnaird Park.
Castlegar CAO Chris Barlow explained that for some of those parks, herbicide may only be needed once in four years.
During the consultation process, city staff spoke to user groups about the fields becoming herbicide free.
Overall, the groups supported going herbicide free, but cautioned that field conditions are more important to them than herbicide reduction. However, if the city is able to maintain excellent field conditions, they would fully support the change.
Barlow says the city plans to use best practices for turf maintenance to promote healthy turf growth. He also says the new policy will mean that hand-pulling weeds or invasive species will be necessary.
Another change to the policy will see city staff decide when a field needs treatment instead of the decision being made by the herbicide contractor.
Barlow explained that for the last decade the city has been trying out new organics whenever they come on the market.
“We have had some successes with spot treatment, but haven’t found a good broadcast treatment option,” he said.
Since 2009, the city has been using EcoClear, a non-herbicide alternative treatment, on sidewalk weeds. EcoClear is nearly three times the cost but is effective when spot applied.
“It is a positive interim step as we evaluate moving forward,” added Barlow.
City staff will bring a report to council at the end of the year on how the changes went so council can decide what to do moving forward.