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THIS WEEK'S COLUMN
July 24, 2014


Mid-Summer Herbfest

On July 27, the 19th Annual Mid-Summer Herbfest is taking place at the Herb Garden (3840 Old Amonte Road). It runs from 9am-5pm (rain or shine). There will the live music, dance performances, a food court, harps on the porch, a beer barn, children's activities, a chef cook-off and most importantly a showcase for over 85 local artisans, food producers and small local businesses. Visit herbfest.ca for more information.

Wild Parsnip

Wild parsnip has started to become a concern for residents as the weed is spreading its way across the rural areas of Ottawa. It is a common plant that shows up in abandoned yards, meadows, old fields, railway embankments and roadsides. (On the homepage of eli.el-chantiry.ca, under the “Latest News” section, there are photos of what Wild Parsnip looks like). The plant produces sap that contains chemicals that can cause burns, rashes or blisters when skin comes in contact with it. Residents should avoid coming into contact with this plant as much as possible.

The City of Ottawa’s Public Works Department is currently working on managing the infestation of wild parsnip. They are working to control the spread through roadside grass cutting. They are using all available mowing equipment to complete cutting along roadsides. The first cut along rural roadsides is now complete. The second rural roadside grass cutting is in progress, and where possible, extends to fence lines. In areas of known infestation, a limited number of reach arm mowers will be used to cut areas not easily accessed by standard equipment.

Some of our neighbouring municipalities, that have higher levels of infestation, are doing pilot projects involving roadside spraying. The City of Ottawa has been in contact with these municipalities and will follow-up on the results of their pilot once complete. Initial research indicates that spraying would be very cost prohibitive in the City of Ottawa and may also result in a negative perception of the City’s environmental sustainability. There is also a strict prohibition against treating any ditch areas that may contain ground water for potential contamination of the local watershed.

Mosquitoes

Annoying mosquitoes are making it difficult for residents to enjoy spending time outside this summer. My office has received a few inquiries in terms of what can be done to help control the mosquito population.

Control of mosquito populations in the City for disease control purposes only is conducted by Ottawa Public Health (OPH). For example, to reduce the health hazards associated with West Nile Disease, OPH coordinates the West Nile Virus Prevention Program. The program targets the species of mosquito (Culex pipiens) which is known for spreading West Nile Disease. Licensed pesticide technicians treat Ottawa catch basins and storm water management ponds. This program also places a number of mosquito traps across the city, whose yields are analyzed weekly for species composition. The results of these analyses, along with other risk factors such as temperature, history, etc., contribute to OPH’s programming initiatives. Their analysis of traps in the Ward 5 vicinity have not shown any of the species of mosquitoes that could be carriers of West Nile Disease.

Due to the late spring, many of the species in the Kanata North/Carp area have come out at the same time, whereas traditionally the various species have different cycles throughout the season. This may be contributing to an increase in population of nuisance mosquitoes.

While neighbouring areas, such as the City of Gatineau, has a program that control for nuisance mosquitoes in certain areas, it does not control for the species that spreads West Nile Disease, and hence would be outside of the scope of the Ottawa Public Health program. Any new programs targeting nuisance mosquitoes would need to be assessed by the City for cost implications.

As the summer progresses, OPH will continue to monitor the situation and take immediate action should further public protection be required.
 
 
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