Winnipeg theatre-goers fume over malathion spray near show

A Winnipeg couple who took in a performance of The Producers at Rainbow Stage last week say they're concerned that they and other theatre-goers may have been exposed to malathion from mosquito fogging trucks nearby.
A Winnipeg woman is concerned she and her boyfriend, along with other theatre-goers, were exposed to malathion as they were taking in a performance of The Producers at Rainbow Stage Theatre Friday night. 2:10

A Winnipeg couple who took in a performance of The Producers at Rainbow Stage last week said they're concerned that they and other theatre-goers may have been exposed to malathion from mosquito fogging trucks nearby.

Maria Froese and Stephen Ramsey said they noticed a strong smell inside the theatre during the last 20 minutes of the show on Friday night.

They also heard the sound of fogging trucks outside.

Maria Froese said she is worried she and her boyfriend, among other people watching a play at Rainbow Stage Friday night, were exposed to malathion. (CBC)
"It felt like it was right outside of the theatre, that the trucks went by. I mean, we could hear the buzz of the trucks," Ramsey told CBC News on Tuesday.

Froese said she wants to know why the city was fogging so close to a crowded park.

"I would think that even 10:30 is kind of an early time to start fogging on a summer evening, especially so close to the park," she said. "I think the issue was that there was just no getting away from it."

Froese said she called 311 the next day to ask the city about it and voice her concerns.

The city said it did not fog Kildonan Park until 3 a.m. Saturday, because it knew about a performance at Rainbow Stage scheduled for Friday night. But it did spray nearby residential streets, according to established guidelines. (CBC)
"Why would the city be spraying so close to an open event?" said Ramsey. "There's lots of cars outside, lights are on, you could hear the music."

The city said it was aware there was a performance that night and that crews didn't fog Kildonan Park until 3 a.m.

It admits there were fogging trucks on residential streets in the area.

Officials said however, the trucks were 200 metres away, which "far exceeds the normal dispersion distance of malathion" for the low volume application they were using.

But environmentalists said it's time to change the rules.

Krtistine Koster of the Manitoba Eco-Network said those distances aren't good enough for everyone. 

"A lot of people have sensitivities to the fogging," she said.

"I don't think there's any excuse for fogging near a park where a live performance is taking place and people are coming into contact with the gas."

Pesticide use permit

Below is the pesticide use permit that the Manitoba government issued to the City of Winnipeg for the period covering May 1 to Oct. 31, 2014. The permit was sent to CBC News by the city.