An abruptly called protest of local residents shut down a J.D. Irving presentation on forest spraying to Petitcodiac Village council on August 15.
J.D. Irving Ltd., New Brunswick’s largest forestry company, is scheduled to spray in the area this summer.
Petitcodiac Mayor Jerry Gogan told the opponents and the media that he had cancelled the J.D. Irving presentation and was working with J.D. Irving representative, Robert Fawcett, to reschedule the presentation at a larger venue in approximately two weeks. The Mayor said that the presentation would be open to the public.
The residents, holding colourful signs calling for forest herbicide spraying to stop, expressed frustration that their tax dollars are being used to pay for the current spray program.
Two weeks ago, Stop Spraying NB, an organization that has formed to oppose forest spraying, made a presentation to Petitcodiac Village Council. The group asked the village to pass a motion against the spraying the forest because of the risk to fish and game, the impact on forest diversity and local waterways, as well as the probable link to cancer for exposed citizens.
Gogan said that before Council makes a decision on such a resolution, he wanted to give J.D. Irving representatives a chance to present their perspective to councillors.
Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold wrote the province’s Environment Minister Serge Rousselle on August 2, asking the province to not allow spraying in the Turtle Creek Watershed, the source of drinking water for the residents of Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview. The Minister has responded saying that glyphosate is approved by Health Canada.
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the forestry herbicide, currently under review by Health Canada, is scheduled to be sprayed on recent clearcuts in the Petitcodiac region, as well as other parts of the province. The herbicide is used to kill vegetation in order to promote the growth of softwoods in industrial forest plantations.
Liz Mallet, a local supporter of Stop Spraying NB, said, “A couple of weeks ago a J.D. Irving representative came to tell us they would be spraying around us, over the next three weeks… It’s galvanized us in the Parkindale area. The clearcut made a mess of the area, now this spraying, this is the final straw.” Parkindale sits just southeast of Petitcodiac, an area used for recreation, with streams, brooks and hiking trails, near the Caledonia Gorge protected area.
Aric Woodworth, a woods worker, says he is frustrated and does not trust J.D. Irving. He joined the Stop Spraying NB Facebook group and came out to protest. He says he and his 88 year old father, Lester, make their living cutting firewood on their local property, next to an area that J.D. Irving has clearcut and is about to spray. “Last time we weren’t even notified. We worry about the drift of the spray. It could wipe out a lot of our hardwood. I’d like to tell Irving that we just want to make a living here too,” said Woodworth.
Gogan told the NB Media Co-op on August 22 that he is still waiting for J.D. Irving representatives to give him a meeting date. He says he plans to chair the public meeting and that people will have the chance to ask questions.
Stop Spraying NB members hope that the citizens will get to ask questions in an open format and that the meeting will enter the public record.
The group is organizing a speaking tour across New Brunswick with Dr. Thierry Vrain, an expert on glyphosate from British Columbia and former soil biologist with Agriculture Canada, in November. They hope to have Dr. Vrain speak in Petitcodiac.
Marilyn Merritt-Gray is a nurse and lifelong advocate for rural health services.