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Dear Editor,

The Town of South Bruce Peninsula (TSBP) was just last week found guilty on two charges of destroying habitat of an endangered species. Ironically, days BEFORE these verdicts, the beach at Sauble was sprayed with toxic herbicides on what the mayor refers to on her facebook page as invasive vegetation that includes phragmites, willows and others.

The Town has gone from bad to worse. Applying herbicides may be “legal”, but is far beyond responsible, ethical or environmentally safe. Use of these dangerous chemicals is gradually becoming banned throughout the world because of their toxicity and carcinogenic properties. (ie: RoundUp and Garlon) There are warnings about applying near water sources due to the damage to aquatic life. Companies such as hydro suppliers use these dangerous herbicides to clear right-of-ways because it is admittedly cheaper than sending in crews to hand cut. Recently one township in Haliburton has banned the use of Garlon in their municipality because of its toxicity.

The phragmites growth on the beach at Sauble is still minimal at this stage and could be manually controlled to stop its spread. Look to the residents of Oliphant, a much smaller population than Sauble, who have banded together as a dedicated team to fight the scourge of phragmites in their waters in an environmentally sound manner. The TSBP even assists them with disposal of cut phragmites in a safe manner.

The willows at the north end of Sauble are a different issue at Sauble. Ironically these willows arrived right after two other manmade interferences on the beach - the introduction of foreign rocks and soil to build the breakwall at the mouth of the river, as well as fill and boulders placed on the beach to shore up road access for cottages located on The Point during high water levels in 1986. Many of these cottagers are highly vocal about their displeasure in the resulting dunes and growth in front of their cottages, but a dune will always form on a shifting sand beach if one puts up a barrier. Fact of nature.

Application of herbicides to the willows at the north end is purely for cosmetic reasons, nothing more. It was the past TSBP work with heavy equipment to remove these willows that landed them the two recent guilty decisions. To say that the willows are causing harm to the Town’s economy is a false excuse because Sauble has seen unprecedented crowds in the last few years causing chaos with traffic, parking, litter, washrooms, and everything else that comes with over-crowding.

Recent cuts to environmental protections by the current provincial government have weakened the protection mandates of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests, Ministry of the Environment and conservation authorities, unfortunately allowing money interests to take precedence over the safety of the environment.

Here was a chance for TSBP to show leadership, be proactive, and work in an environmentally friendly manner. Once again, a failing grade. Surely herbicide use is not best practice.

And to those whose sandpoints are within feet of the herbicide application, including Mayor Jackson, may I suggest bottled water going forward. Luckily our family is upstream slightly.

Ann Rolfe
Shedden/Sauble Beach




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