Moth-spraying concerns come too late

So, a petition has been launched and a rally has been held to protest the gypsy moth spraying that’s been going on in Cloverdale and Delta.

While everyone has a right to argue their concerns and speak out against what they see as wrong or harmful – in fact, we encourage it as a newspaper – it must be recognized that there is a venue and timeframe in which to do so in order to make change.

Last October, we ran a front-page story – an exclusive one, to boot – telling readers that a significant population of the invasive gypsy moth had been found in Surrey and the ministry planned to combat them by spraying pesticides from the air this spring.

We were expecting an onslaught of letters, both from concerned residents and from environmentalists.

Instead? Crickets.

Fast forward to March, when the first spraying commenced, and voila! People took notice.

The government insists the pesticide (Foray 48B) is safe, but a variety of residents are reporting they’ve experienced side effects. One resident told CTV News she took her son to the hospital after he developed an allergic reaction after playing outside. Another woman told Global News she has heaviness in her chest and has developed a cough since the spraying began.

Valid concerns – startling, to say the least. Heck, I live in the area and I have a friend who has had a terrible cough since about the time of the first spraying. He called me Tuesday morning as he stepped outside, just as the helicopter was flying overhead, and he felt nauseous shortly after.

But it seems the concerns may be coming too late.

Consider this: You own a home, and one day you notice a house being built right next door. It is going to block your windows and vegetable garden from the sun.

Are you angry? Of course you are, and rightfully so.

But you see, there’s a process through which you have to voice your concerns.

For example, if you didn’t bother to go to the public hearing to oppose this new house from being built, how can you speak against it once the appropriate permits and zoning have been approved?

Well, you can. But you probably won’t get very far.

Such is the case with the gypsy moth spraying. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations got the permits it needed and posted notice in the local paper. They appeared before Surrey council months before the spraying began. It also held an open house in Surrey earlier this year.

Some of those complaining about the pesticide spray say the government didn’t to enough to communicate the plans. That’s why we, as journalists, also work hard to arm you with information. We get that people are busy. We are too and, after all, it’s easy to overlook things.

But this is a story we see play out over and over again. People don’t get upset until things directly affect them. But by then, unfortunately, it’s often too late.

Amy Reid is a reporter with the Now.

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