Kingsville and FCM urge Ottawa to act on phragmites infestation

Phragmites on waterfront property. April 29, 2016. (Photo by Simon Crouch)

The Town of Kingsville and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities are pushing the federal government to do something about phragmites.

It plans to pass a resolution calling on the federal government to speed up the review process for herbicides that can be used on the reedy invasive species.

Agriculture and Agri-food Canada has called phragmites “the worse invasive plant” for the damage it causes to wetlands, beaches, and municipal drainage systems. They spread so fast they create a loss of biodiversity and habitat for other species. A toxin secreted from its roots can poison the soil for other plants. The dead stalks decompose slowly and create a fire hazard.

The Ministry of the Environment said the best way to control them is to catch them quickly, use herbicide, mow them down, flood them, and even burn them in a prescribed burn. Those measures only work if they are used in tandem.

Herbicides containing surfactants are banned in aquatic environments, so municipalities are not able to fully implement best management practices.

Originally, the resolution the town and the federation planned to send to Ottawa called for approval of the use of herbicides. The words “products that can be safely used” was inserted instead.