Coun. Stephen Montague is calling for changes to the city’s “dysfunctional” and “extremely broken” mosquito abatement policy.
The Richmond ward councillor said that the wording of the policy is what led to the “slow response and mishandling” of the mosquito situation in July.
“The residents need to know we’ve got a plan in place,” he said. “Our summers are limited enough. We don’t need to be worrying about stuff like this in the middle of July, they’d rather … know what’s going to be done if we do hit those numbers,” he said.
On Monday night, city council passed a motion put forward by Montague that asks city administration, along with the mosquito abatement control committee to prepare amendments to the policy for consideration in the fall.
The city’s mosquito count soared in early July, resulting in many Brandon residents calling for the city to fog with malathion.
Trap counts were recorded at 1,192 (July 8), a dramatic increase from the July 1 count of just 73.
As the current policy states, fogging may be done once the Adulticiding Factors Analysis reaches 15 points. It leaves it up to city staff and the mosquito abatement control committee to make the decision.
City administration did not recommend fogging at the time, but due to the public outcry, the issue was brought to council about a week later to make the ultimate decision.
After a lengthy debate, a motion was passed by a vote of 7-3 to fog.
Montague would like to see “automatic triggers,” such as fogging within 48 hours if mosquito trap count numbers reach a certain level.
“I think that brings a more timely response to address the need faster but also takes the politics out of it, where it’s not coming to council, it’s not delayed for a week or so, till a decision is made,” Montague said.
The city’s mosquito trap counts have gone from high to medium range and as a result, have not had to fog a second time.
The latest numbers show a daily average trap count of 359 (Aug. 18) and 262 (Aug. 19).
The percentage of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes, the type known to carry the West Nile virus, has risen to 3.6 (Aug. 18) and 13.4 (Aug. 19).
This is up significantly from previous weeks, which for the most part saw less than one per cent. However, this is the time of the summer season when the Culex tarsalis species is typically more active.
City communications director Allison Collins said in a press release that it “must be stressed that, as of Aug. 16, Manitoba Health was reporting none of the Culex tarsalis mosquitoes trapped in Brandon and tested at provincial labs have tested positive for the virus.”
Montague would also like to ensure that there is a budget line in place for mosquito fogging in the future, as there were no funds set aside for fogging this summer.
“It’s becoming more of a common practice. Trap count numbers are going up, standing water issues are increasing in our community. This is going to be something that’s going to be an ongoing thing,” he said.
“We need to make sure that we’ve got a supply in place to be able to react quickly because we were kind of left scrambling looking for malathion to spray when it was at a point where we needed it.”
Montague would also like to see changes to the buffer zone policy, such as having a registration deadline each year, maintain written request for the buffer zone and publish maps so residents know if they are affected.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 20, 2013