Pesticide issue residents’ focus at Hudson council meeting
PHOTO BY JULES-PIERRE MALARTE
JJ Corker was one of a number of residents who took to the mic at the March 2 council meeting to press council for firm answers on its pesticide by-law policies.
The Town of Hudson held their monthly meeting March 2, and despite a number of different items on the agenda, pesticides were the most important subject on the mind of many of the attending residents.
Residents availed themselves of both question periods to raise their concerns over enforcement of municipal By-law 270 concerning pesticides. Section 2 of the by-law stipulates that the spreading and use of a pesticide are prohibited throughout the town’s territory. Sections 3 and 4, and amendments by By-laws 327 and 341, permit the use of pesticides under certain conditions, namely for farmers and golf course operators, but under strict conditions, including the production of an annual report on pesticide usage.
Resident Benjamin Poirier kicked off the round of questions about pesticides by asking if the town would still be enforcing the by-law. “I wanted to know if all of you had read By-law 270 about pesticides, and if any one of you still entertained the view that this by-law may be illegal or invalid?” Poirier asked.
“Certainly, it isn’t invalid,” Mayor Jamie Nicholls answered. “It’s still enforceable.”
Nicholls added the town had already received the report from the Whitlock Golf Club and that they were working on receiving another from Como Golf. Poirier asked if Nicholls was speaking only for himself or for the entire council to which Nicholls confirmed he spoke for the entire council. Poirier then asked if the reports were going to be enforced over the spring and summer which Nicholls affirmed.
Resident JJ Corker immediately followed with additional questions regarding the enforcement of By-law 270.
“Who is going to be examining the reports from all farmers in town who will be spraying this year?” He added the by-law required the environmental committee to examine the reports. “There is no environmental committee, as you know,” Nicholls answered. “I don’t think there will be an in-depth examination of this report, or an analysis of any kind,” he added, admitting this was not an ideal case, but that until the town had the required expertise in place, no further evaluation of the reports would be conducted.
Various members of the council then launched into a discussion of available resources, mentioning the town’s environmental technician, who could possibly provide some examination of the pesticide reports, but the conclusion was that her capacities were already fully engaged on other projects.
“I strongly suggest that the mayor, and even more strongly that General Manager Philip Toone, read those items and enforce them, and make sure that these reports are examined by someone in the town,” Corker concluded.
Another resident pointed out there were third-party firms who have the expertise for pesticide testing. She also asked about the environmental committee, saying she had been elected to that committee, but that the town had never followed up. “I’m just wondering what’s going on, because we received no communication from the town after we were elected,” she said, adding that examination of the pesticide reports could be performed by residents on the committee.
Questions on committee structure
Nicholls said the council was presently looking at the entire committee structure and promised a decision soon but the resident challenged him, saying they have been waiting since September. “I really feel like if you don’t have any environmental staff, and if you’re not planning on having any environmental staff on board, we are offering services free of charge and our time to help.” Nicholls replied the town had the environmental technician but reiterated her workload was full and that he would bring up the matter at the next caucus.
Resident Benoît Blais relaunched the discussion on pesticides at the second question period.
Pesticide versus parade
“During the last council, you said By-law 2070 was not applicable. Since then you have changed your mind, but at the same time you’re saying you’re not going to look at these reports because you don’t have the manpower or the expertise. But it’s interesting to see that you will be spending $11,000 for software to collect data on garbage and $8000 for the Saint-Patrick Parade, and you don’t intend to spend one dollar for something that can affect the health of all residents,” Blais stressed. “Is it because you don’t care about the impact on the population?”
“I reject the premise of the question,” Nicholls answered, adding that he cares about the pesticide issue but is trying to rehabilitate a town with many things to fix. “We have a limited budget, so we can’t fund every initiative,” Nicholls added.
Following the meeting, Blais told The Journal he was not satisfied with the answers provided by council. “They seem to have a lot of money for other consultants and other issues,” Blais added. “They use consultants right, left and center. How much would it cost to hire a consultant to look at those reports?” Blais added. He also stressed he was not against spending on the Saint-Patrick parade, but he felt that the priority should be given to an issue that can impact the health of residents. “Residents’ health is more important than a parade.”