The City of Brandon will undertake one of its earliest rounds of mosquito fogging ever despite the usual thresholds not being met yet. As long as weather permits, fogging will take place overnight Wednesday and Thursday this week.
All areas of the city south of Victoria Avenue will be fogged Wednesday and north of Victoria Avenue Thursday, beginning around 10 p.m.
Coun. Shawn Berry (Linden Lanes) raised the issue at Monday’s city council meeting.
He argued that since the last mosquito trap counts were taken, the city has seen significant rainfall and a corresponding increase in the number of mosquitoes.
"No, we’re not, but we all know what’s coming. We’ve had a lot of rain and a lot of water laying around right now. We’ve now had the heat wave and the hot weather, and now you’re going to see an abundance of mosquitoes. We’ll have a smorgasbord of citizens within a week here. My point is, why wait until the trap counts are high enough for us to start fogging?" Berry said.
With wind and rain conditions acting as barriers to mosquito fogging, Berry said the city should take the opportunity to carry out the process with end of school year and Canada Day celebrations approaching quickly.
"We’ve been cooped up enough and I’m sorry, but to heck with policy and let’s get it done," he said. "Because we might have to do it more than once."
Mosquito fogging is triggered when the number of mosquitoes in the city’s traps fall under the high category for two consecutive counts, if the average number of mosquitoes in traps exceeds 1,000 or if any individual trap contains more than 2,000 mosquitoes.
There are five traps across the city, which are checked every Sunday and Monday during mosquito season.
The most recent trap counts posted on the city’s website from June 12 and 13 showed an average trap count of 573 and 479 mosquitoes, respectively. By far the busiest trap was No. 2, which recorded 1,520 mosquitoes on June 12 and 1,652 on June 13.
Coun. Kris Desjarlais (Rosser) said it should be the city’s policy to have administration carry out fogging as soon as it’s needed.
"We’ve witnessed in the last couple of years just how quickly the numbers can escalate," Desjarlais said. "We can’t wait those five or six days, because it’s too late."
He added that since the city has switched from malathion insecticide to a safer product, it’s easier for him to recommend fogging.
Also in agreement with the plan was Coun. Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine), who said that access to the outdoors is a benefit to mental health and having mosquitoes disrupt that could be frustrating coming out of a pandemic and a cooler spring season.
"There’s not much we can do about $9.44 a gallon gas, but we can make their [residents’] backyards more comfortable," Coun. Glen Parker (Riverview) said.
Coun. Bruce Luebke (South Centre) supported the motion, but asked if city staff could undertake a review of the fogging policy to see if it requires an update.
Residents will be given a 24-hour notice before fogging takes place.
When the process is underway, it is recommended that windows be closed and equipment that draws air from the outside be turned off so the fogging material does not come inside.
Mayor Rick Chrest said the idea of improving the fogging policy so that politicians didn’t have to get involved in the decision-making process is something that preceeds his two terms as mayor and expressed hope that something could be changed. That way, council’s input wouldn’t be required during the middle of the summer when only one council meeting is held per month.
"We don’t have a meeting to tell them to plow the snow," Chrest said. "We’ve got it all laid out there. They go in the middle of the night. That’s the kind of system I like. The fire chief doesn’t call me to say someone’s called for an ambulance."
Residents who are worried about the fogging can apply to the city to have a buffer zone placed around their home where the insecticide is not sprayed.
The devices used to spray the insecticide are programmed with the GPS co-ordinates of the homes with buffer zones and turn off automatically when going by.
According to the city’s director of parks and recreation Perry Roque, two of the city’s fogging trucks must be calibrated in Winnipeg, but the other two are available in the meantime.
Fogging can’t take place if the weather is below 13 C or if wind speed is above 16 kilometres an hour.
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