Jasper town council is exploring the possibility of spraying parts of the town with herbicides in an attempt to control the growth of invasive, non-native weeds.
While the spraying of herbicides isn't currently allowed on municipal lands, Parks Canada officials said a limited localized spraying is the only way to control the weeds, which have moved into areas such as industrial yards and gravel pits around town.
John Wilmshurst, a science manager at Jasper National Park said the spraying is warranted as the weeds are harming native species of plants.
Non-chemical treatments, such as digging up the weeds, have not worked, Wilmshurst said.
"We don't come to these decisions lightly, but it is a lesser of two evils," he said.
"We can either not use the herbicides in these cases, and then allow these invasive species to spread, and see the destruction to the biodiversity that may ensue. Or we could, you know, carefully use the herbicides."
Wilmshurst said the spraying will not happen near Jasper's residential areas or parks.
Jasper Mayor Richard Ireland said council will review the pros and cons of spraying. So far, both the Jasper Health Advisory Committee and Jasper's environmental stewardship committee have supported Parks Canada's plan.
"We're not going to rush into this but we do understand Parks Canada has an overriding obligation with respect to the environment and they think this is the best way to deal with that," Ireland said.
"We just want to make sure that from a health perspective for our residents and for visitors, no one is going to be put at risk."
Council is scheduled to vote on the matter May 18.