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'They're not going to walk over us': Rural N.B. residents protest herbicide spraying

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Tanya Barbour spent Wednesday night by herself on a rural road a few kilometres from her home in Riverside-Albert, N.B., to send a message.

A sign on the New Ireland Road near her makeshift campsite says the area is scheduled to be sprayed with herbicide application VP480 which has glyphosate as the active ingredient.

Barbour says that makes her concerned about her health and the health of others.

“New Ireland is like home. I've grown up here my whole life. I love it here and it's very obvious water runs down hill so it's very close to the water for Riverside-Albert which also concerns me,” said Barbour.

Department of Environment and Climate Change spokesperson Heather Pert said J.D Irving Limited, through a subsidiary company called Forest Patrol Ltd., is permitted to apply herbicides on specified properties for vegetation management purposes.

“The permit issued to Forest Patrol Ltd. includes conditions including that all residents within 500 metres of the treatment site be notified prior to the application,” said Pert in an email. “The permit also requires the company to publish a public notification by way of advertisement placed in the local newspaper and to post signs at all points of public access to the treatment area.”

In an email to CTV News, J.D Irving Limited spokesperson Anne McInerney said the product is regulated by Health Canada and permitted by the provincial government and the forest industry uses the same product many farmers use.

Like Barbour, Danny Cameron is also concerned about the product getting into the water supply and he wants the province to take notice.

“We're going to be here, we're going to be camped out until they realize that we're here and we mean business. We're not going to let this happen. They're not going to walk over us. We're just small people, country people. We're just sick and tired of the government walking all over us,” said Cameron.

Cameron was planning on going moose hunting on the crown land next month, but he’s had a change of heart.

“This is where we hunt, this is where we fish,” said Cameron. “I was supposed to hunt moose here five weeks from now. Not going to happen now. Not after they spray.”

Anne McInerney said treatment areas are targeted to help seedlings compete for the sunlight, water and other nutrients needed to survive.

Without the herbicide, McInerney said close to 70 per cent of planted areas won’t meet their full potential.

Even if the product has been deemed safe, the spraying still doesn’t sit well with Darlene Robertson who has a camp a few kilometres away from the campsite.

“I think there needs to be a hold put on and more investigation. I think people actually need to come up and walk the land and see where the lakes and the streams and the brooks, the rivers are,” said Robertson.

According to J.D. Irving, less than one per cent of the forest is treated each year and a planted area is typically treated once or twice in the 40 year life cycle of planted trees.

Barbour said she expects more people to join her at the campsite at the top of the New Ireland Road.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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