Petronella van Oyen is worried about her young son playing in the field adjacent to Drinkwater Elementary School.
Van Oyen, who lives next door to the field, said signs, topped with foreboding skull and crossbones, went up in the field on Aug. 16 warning people that pesticides had been applied in the field to eliminate broad-leaf weeds, and nobody should enter the area for at least 24 hours.
“I am offended that tax dollars are wasted by putting this poison on grass that children were rolling around on the same day,” she said.
“The children didn’t even notice the warning signs at the time as might be expected, and were playing there anyway.”
Even though many days have passed since the 24-hour warning, van Oyen is still worried about the possible health impacts of the pesticides on her son, who plays in the field regularly, and the many other people and their animals who frequent the field on a daily basis.
“We also have a vegetable garden in our yard that is growing directly next to the field, and we have some concerns around that too,” she said.
“We understand that the pesticides are meant to kill plants and probably won’t hurt humans, but we don’t understand why pesticides have to be used in the field in the first place. Regular cutting of the grass can control weeds and they never really hurt any one any way.”
Rod Allen, superintendent of the Cowichan Valley school district which is responsible for the upkeep of the field, said when school fields require it, the district does use herbicides in accordance with the safety guidelines of its pest management plan.
“If we don’t, the fields can become unsafe for use due to the slipping hazard that weeds create,” Allen said.
“It is always done by a licensed company, in accordance with regulations set out by the Ministry of Water, Lands and Air Protection, and the fields are marked to ensure that the public is aware.”