Halifax homeowners bugged by commercial pesticide sprayings

Halifax homeowners upset that CN allowed to spray pesticides along its rail lines

A loophole in Halifax's pesticide bylaw is allowing CN to spray along its rail line, and homeowners are not happy about it.

In early June, CN will be spraying its main line through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with pesticides.

"I would hope they would consider the homeowners," said Donald Dodge, programs officer for Clean Nova Scotia.

CN has hired a company to spray the lines using a rail vehicle equipped with remote TV cameras. The worker on board sprays chemicals such as Arsenel and Karmex on weeds as the vehicle goes by.

CN spokesman, Pierre Leclerc, said the chemicals have been used for years, and are needed to keep the weeds under control and prevent derailments.

"Mowing and trimming remain important parts of any right-of-way maintenance program, but mechanical means alone can't adequately protect the right-of-way," he said.

CN has its permit from the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment and is ready to go, said Leclerc.

Halifax is one of about 60 municipalities across the country that have enacted partial or full bans on pesticides for cosmetic purposes.

Stephen King, the municipality's senior parks and natural areas adviser, said there's always a chance the legislation could be expanded to cover commercial properties.

"The bylaw was originally driven by the public's interest in reducing pesticide use," he said. "If there's enough public concern, that would seem to drive the political interests."