The issue of spraying chemical weedkiller on the Hibiscus Coast will be in the spotlight again as the contracts for the service come up for renewal.
Ever since October 2015, Auckland Council’s contractors have been spraying the edges of local parks, reserves and playgrounds with Roundup after deciding to replace mechanical methods of edging control, such as weedeaters, with chemical spray in order to cut costs.
However the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board is hopeful that it will be able to negotiate for a return to mechanical edging methods in this area when the contracts are renewed. Those discussions have already begun and the new contracts come into force on July 1.
Local board chair Julia Parfitt says she has been told that the boards will be able to negotiate for manual weed edging and less chemical use. The board’s policy includes an emphasis on non-toxic methods of weed control.
She says there has also been a commitment that there will be no chemical weedkiller sprayed on playgrounds – something many locals were concerned about.
Council has said that local boards must wear additional costs if they wish to go back to non-chemical weed control. At the same time, it is saying that a Key Performance Indicator is being developed which could be included in the new contracts in favour of reducing agrichemical use.
Mrs Parfitt says there could be savings in other contracts, such as the one for local graffiti removal, which would make mechanical edging possible here. She also says Council’s suggested costs for mechanical methods seem “rather high”.
The local board is thinking outside the box and this includes preliminary discussions with Coast Youth Community Trust (CYC) about whether local young people could take on the mechanical edging work. Potentially this would provide locals with employment as well as being more cost effective, Mrs Parfitt says.
“Our local board is included with the North Shore contracts and they’re all keen on the hot water method of weed control which they had prior to the amalgamation of councils,” Mrs Parfitt says. “We can lead by example and see if we can come up with a community solution to make that happen here.”