Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/7/2010 (4151 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
You can be sure the telephone lines between the residents of Wolseley and the inhabitants of the government offices on Broadway have been overloaded the past the few days.
Wolseley has become the nerve centre of the campaign to eliminate the practice of fogging for mosquitoes and it is one of the least-fogged neighbourhoods in the city. The residents are also strong supporters of the NDP, which has indicated that it's prepared to make it easier for the city to launch its chemical wars on the skeeter, while reducing the size of the fog-free zones.
The NDP might lose a few friends over the issue, but it will avoid alienating the majority of citizens who want mosquitoes eliminated as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The problem with the current approach, however, is that it seems entirely arbitrary. Mayor Sam Katz, for example, says the buffer zone should be cut by half, or possibly even zero. It hardly sounds scientific or fact-based, and it raises some good questions.
If malathion is truly safe, as Health Canada and local health authorities say, then why would the province allow a buffer zone of any size. The answer, presumably, is that some people have serious health reactions to the chemical. But if that's the case, then what is the proper dimension of a safe buffer zone? Is there a safe buffer zone? Or should the chemically sensitive be told to get out of town when fogging starts, as many do now?
Instead of reacting willy-nilly, the province needs to conduct a thorough policy review of mosquito control. If there are effective and safe alternatives to malathion, as there apparently are being used in the United States, then the province should lobby Ottawa for the right to use them here.
A policy review might also produce other recommendations, including one adopted by Edmonton in 1993, when the city began a program of filling in low-lying areas to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds.
It will be hard to sell a more relaxed mosquito-fogging program to opponents if it is based solely on the volume of complaints received by politicians. In fact, it is likely to produce more civil disobedience and community discord.
There are no easy solutions, but whatever approach is adopted should be based on research, and not on political expediency.