Catch Baits owner, Lisa Pilgrim, was in Toronto for a routine meeting
with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) just over a year ago as a
member of a baitfish advisory committee. There had been many such
meetings, but this time she brought a prop.
"It was an MNR sign, a proper notice, that said ‘don't eat the blueberries,'" Pilgrim said.
The reason? The blueberries were in an area that had received
herbicidal spray, applied from a helicopter, and were therefore
potentially unsafe to consume.
"Why is it that in Toronto they don't spray anything, but up
here they just do whatever they want?" she asked. "There are
bicyclists, fishers, hunters, hikers, all kinds of people in the forest
every day. You don't know when they are going to be over you.
"If you can't eat the blueberries, what is it doing to everything else?"
The Mid-North Monitor ran a story in last week's edition
outlying the concerns of two area residents. A number of other area
residents and one business owner have added their concern to the chorus
decrying aerial herbicide spraying in the Massey and North Shore
region. The MNR has issued notice that Domtar will be spraying a few
kilometres north of Massey in three places August 20.
Sure Catch Baits, located in Walford Station, has been in
business for about 13 years. Their work involves among other things,
collecting minnows on a commercial scale from a number of sources
around the Massey area. Pilgrim said ponds and other waterways near
locations that have been sprayed are abnormally clear, and almost
devoid of plant life.
"When we go in to some places, we notice a difference in the
water's chemistry," Pilgrim said. "There usually aren't any reeds, even
lily pads. We need those too, you know. The water is clear and of
course, it kills the minnows."
Pilgrim said she was told by the MNR that the chemicals,
applied by forestry companies to give pine and spruce trees a head
start against competing (and commercially valueless) vegetation, are
"At that time it was called Vision," she said of the solution
in question, produced by Monsanto and also distributed under the names
Round-Up and Vantage. "If it rains after, where do you think it goes?
If they pulled it off the shelves (Round-Up), why is Domtar still
spraying these things in our backyard?"
Gord Day is an import from British Columbia. He moved to the
area, bought some property and started enjoying the surroundings,
hunting in the woods and fishing in the river about a year ago. Now he
wonders if moving here to be near relatives was a mistake.
tell us it gets rid of the raspberries and the willows," he said. "Well
we eat the raspberries, and the moose eat the willows, and we eat the
moose. And they say they can spray on a dime - nothing from a
helicopter sprays on a dime."
Day said it's another way to eliminate jobs and save money.
"They call it different names but it always has the same amount
of glyphosate," Day said. "They have no idea what the long-term
consequences of these chemicals are. If Gerry is any example of the
short-term effects, they're doing this to us all.
"Sure they come and test after six months, but what about a
year, two years, five years? I think the fewer people that know about
this; the more they can get away with."
The Gerry in question is Gerry Voutour, owner of East Bull
Lake Lodge. Voutour told the Mid-North Monitor last week he exhibits
seven of the 10 health-related side effects associated with
glophosate-containing herbicides, including an enlarged prostate, high
toxin levels in his blood and two lens replacement surgeries.
John Podlatis lives off Birch Lake Road in Massey. He is
convinced herbicide sprayed along hydro line routes in the area
inevitably makes its way to a nearby freshwater spring.
"It's only a couple of hundred metres away and if it rains, it
ends up in the spring," he said. "There are constantly people taking
drinking water there. I've lived here almost my whole life, and they've
been doing it for years. No one says anything about it."