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Stouffville shifting gears on weed control
July 10, 2014
By Sandra Bolan

A water and vinegar solution didn’t do a thing to curb the growth of dandelions, nor did spreading corn gluten over the municipality’s 67 acres of open space.

Now, the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville is using the herbicide Fiesta.

The product’s MSD sheet claims the product has a “slight ammonia smell”, but one resident found it to be so strong, she told The Sun-Tribune via e-mail when it was applied to a nearby park, “… we could taste the chemicals and one of us had difficulty breathing.”

“… The person(s) who approved the spraying of our parks should be held accountable for the adverse affects this is having on people and pets, it is a poison, …” wrote Carol Kidd.

The town has received no complaints, only inquiring phone calls about what was happening, according to Mike Richardson, the town’s manager of facilities and parks.

Fiesta is a mineral-based herbicide that utilizes iron chelate as the active ingredient, according to the company’s website.

Weeds hate the compound, while grass has no adverse reaction to it.

People and pets can use a treated area within a couple of hours after it is applied, according to the company’s website.

Fiesta is currently being tested on about 50 per cent of the municipality’s open space, most of which is in the urban area, according to Richardson.

“Even though many municipalities have had success with it, we want to make sure it works well here,” he said.

So far, so good.

“We are very happy with Fiesta.  It is quite effective.  We will know for certain once we get the second treatment done,” Richardson said.

Using Fiesta this year will cost $1,120 per acre, according to Richardson. Weedman is the company doing the spraying. It is only being applied twice this season to the open spaces

The town’s 33 acres of sports fields are being treated the old fashioned way – an integrated pest management program (IPM) of aerating, top dressing, over-seeding and cutting.

That program costs $1,600 per acre for the entire season, according to Richardson.

“We’re constantly told we have the best fields,” he said.

The open spaces not being treated with Fiesta are also undergoing a less-intensive version of the IPM program.

The grass was cut weekly during the spring and then in the summer it will be reduced to every other week or as needed, according to Richardson.

It’s impossible to maintain the sports field level of upkeep on all open fields, he said because it is very labour intensive.

“If you can do it often enough, it’s quite effective,” he said.

In 2009, a number of Canadian provinces banned synthetic herbicides, insecticides and fungicides for cosmetic use.