White Pass and Yukon Railway herbicide plan raises alarm

Some Yukoners are wondering why a plan to spray weed killer along the White Pass and Yukon railroad only came to light at a Skagway municipal council meeting.

'Is it the best solution? Is it the only solution?' asks Yukon Environment Critic Kate White

The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad Company has applied to spray weed killer from Carcross, Yukon to the B.C. border and the rest of the route to Skagway, but the application only came to light at a Skagway municipal council meeting. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)

Some Yukoners are questioning a plan to spray weed killer on the White Pass and Yukon railway tracks.

The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad Company had applied to the Yukon Government for permission to spray the tracks from Carcross to the B.C. border. It's also looking to spray the rest of the route to Skagway, but the application only came to light at a Skagway municipal council meeting.

sign's were posted about 10 kilometres outside of Carcross, Yukon in 2014 . (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC)
That has some people on the Yukon side of the border asking questions.

“Is it the best solution? Is it the only solution?” asks Yukon opposition Environment Critic Kate White. “And why is the only time we’ve heard about it because it has been picked up by the media?”

Yukon Conservation Society director Lewis Rifkind has some questions of his own.

“We do recognize that the White Pass and Yukon Railway does have to deal with the weed issue but surely there are other alternatives. Are there safer herbicides or even mechanical means?”

Rifkind says there's simply not enough information about the effects of such a large herbicide application.

“The amount of knowledge on herbicides in the North is somewhat limited so to just basically rubber stamp a 108 kilometres of herbicide use without sort of saying, ‘Okay, is this stuff going to stick around?  Is it not?’  It does raise a lot of concerns for us.”

The Yukon government says it's reviewing the White Pass application and, so far, no decision has been made.

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