Park spray upsets parents

The change to new maintenance contracts last month has been a backward step for a children’s playground in Millwater, according to residents and a local councillor.

Since parents complained to the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board about the use of Glyphosate/Roundup in the little playground in Botanical Drive, at the end of 2015, it has been a no-go area for sprays,
However, parents became aware on July 17 that spraying was taking place. It was subsequently confirmed that Glyphosate was sprayed on weeds there.

Shona Roberts, whose child plays at the park, says when she rang to complain to Auckland Council, she was advised to keep kids off the playground. “I thought she was joking, as it was school holidays!” Shona says. “There is absolutely no need to spray – there are no weeds causing problems.”

She also contacted Cr John Watson, who says the spraying was “appalling”. He is looking into what occurred and seeking answers from Council staff who are in charge of the new contracts.

He says he hopes that the local board advocates for no spraying in local parks which the community has advised it wants. “They can ask for that under the new contracts,” he says.

Local board chair Julia Parfitt says there was an informal agreement with the former contractors, Recreational Services, not to spray the Botanical Drive playground. However, she says nothing was formalised and that could be why the new contractors were not aware of the arrangement when they began their first round of work last month.

“We are currently trying to arrange a meeting between our new contractors, Ventia, and some local groups who want some flexibility in the contracts,” Mrs Parfitt says. “Those issues need to be formalized and put in the contract.”

She says where no spraying is to take place the local board would have to be assured that the park will be maintained to the same standard, or better.

Under the new contract, use of sprays is to be limited and should not be around play equipment, she says.

Shona Roberts says the situation is disappointing. “We feel like the little guys who must keep constantly battling to get what we want,” she says. “It is wearing us out.”


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