Keywords:Pesticide Control Act—s. 6; Pesticide Control Act Regulation—s. 2(1)(a); Railway Safety Code—s. 22.214.171.124(1) ; vegetation control; herbicide application; public notice.
The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (“SLRD”) appealed a decision by the Deputy Administrator under the Pesticide Control Act to issue a pesticide use permit to BC Rail Ltd. (“BC Rail”). The permit authorized the application of specified pesticides to the ballast and siding areas of BC Rail’s railway right-of-way for the purposes of vegetation management. SLRD sought an order revoking the permit or, alternatively, substantially amending it.
The SLRD raised a number of concerns, including whether use of pesticides under the permit will have an adverse effect on human health or the environment, whether alternative weed control methods were available, and whether the notice requirements in the permit were adequate.
The Board found that the use of pesticides as authorized would not lead to an adverse effect on human health or the environment arising from surface or groundwater contamination. The Board further found that effective ballast vegetation control was required for safety reasons, and no reasonable alternative to pesticides has been proven to exist for vegetation control in the ballast.
The Board found that although BC Rail complied with the requirements of the Pesticide Control Act Regulation and the permit in regards to public notification, these requirements may be insufficient for some members of the public who could be affected by the pesticide use. In particular, the public may not have sufficient time to take precautions before treatment begins if signs notifying of the treatment are posted only immediately prior to spraying. The Board found that the permit should be amended to require that it be posted in more than one location within the SLRD that is reasonably accessible to potentially affected residents. In addition, signs advising of pesticide use should be posted at well-defined pedestrian crossings and all road crossings at least four days in advance of spraying.