City curtails hiring but gypsy moth spraying to proceed

Sarnia City Hall. (BlackburnNews file photo)

Sarnia council accepted all but one of staff’s recommendations Monday to mitigate lost revenues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Council decided to continue plans for gypsy moth spraying, rather than cancel the project, during its virtual meeting that was streamed online.

Parks and Recreation Director Rob Harwood was asked if there would be permanent damage to trees if the spraying was delayed.

“The information I have is that the potential is high for permanent damage to be experienced with those trees,” said Harwood. “It is a bit of a cyclical thing that happens, but we’re in a high time right now, so as you saw what happened last year and when we did have the company go and do inspection for egg masses, it was determined that yes, it’s still very alive and here.”

Harwood said not spraying this year would likely result in severe defoliation of trees located near Sarnia Golf and Curling Club, Our Lady of Mercy and Lakeview Cemetery, Oak Acres Park and an area around Lakeshore and Modeland Roads.

The city has budgeted $82,000 for the spraying this year.

Council passed other recommendations and agreed to hold off on several other projects, including transit facility renovations and the purchase of a new showmobile.

A total of 164 positions, including student and seasonal jobs with the City of Sarnia, will also remain vacant.

Not filling the positions will save close to $575,000 and holding off on non-essential capital projects will save $1.758 million.

The city has lost about $700,000 in revenue from waiving Sarnia Transit fees, cancelling events and paying other unforeseen expenses.