If you were to tune in to all the chatter the topic of weeds elicited this week, you’d think that Kelowna was turning into a post apocalyptic wasteland.
“The weeds are like a foot-and-a-half high down Harvey Avenue,” said Coun. Andre Blanleil, claiming the sight causes him consternation and embarrassment.
“Sorry, it looked like Detroit,” responded City Manager, Ron Mattiussi.
Pithy dialogue is always enjoyable in council chambers, but the conversation planted a seed and the next day the airwaves were chock-o-block with even more weed-related histrionics, causing me a bit of consternation of my own.
Calling in to the local radio talk show, Kelowna residents expressed concern that we live in a city being consumed by weeds and chipped in ideas how to win the war against them.
In short, Agent Orange may finally be getting cleaned up from Vietnam this year, but locals would welcome its chemical cousin to be used on Ministry of Highway maintained medians, city-owned fields and boulevards, schoolyards and other urban areas.
In the words of a bloated Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now: “The horror, the horror.”
Maybe it’s because I find dandelions to be quite pretty and actually enjoy yanking out other weeds when it’s time to plant my garden that this line of conversation didn’t work for me.
More likely it’s because it’s been made abundantly clear that these chemicals don’t just kill weeds and disappear from our world.
They go into the water, our lungs, our skin and they’ve been blamed for everything from cancer to birth defects.
So unless it’s absolutely necessary they should be treated with caution and fear, and generally avoided.
It means more work, for sure, but short-cuts around manual labour are how things got out of control in the first place.
Problem is, however, the same people who don’t want to look at weeds also don’t want to pay for their removal.
Harvey Avenue’s medians are a provincial matter, but the city itself has its fair share of weeds to whack thanks to a wet start to summer, but it’s not being done in the name of fiscal prudence.
Last year when council was doing its budgetary magic, aiming for a zero tax increase, one of the items that got snipped was weed control.
A contractor that trims weeds coming up on curb lines and city-owned medians used to show up twice a year, but was cut back to once.
A couple hundred walkways that were once treated with frequent weed control now only get it snipped twice a year. And summer students who usually are hired to deal with noxious weeds weren’t employed.
Financially strapped Kelowna residents applauded the zero-tax effort when it was announced, but next time they feel frustrated by the unsightliness of Mother Nature it might behoove them to remember the old adage, “you reap what you sow.”