2022 Waterloo Spur Line – Vegetation Control Activities

Posted on Monday July 11, 2022

In order to maintain federal standards, the Region of Waterloo has hired MVM Rail to conduct vegetation control along the Waterloo Spur Rail Line between Breithaupt St. (Kitchener) and First St. S (Elmira), excluding the section between King St. N and Northfield Dr. W. The work is scheduled to take place July 27th 2022, 10:00 p.m. to July 28th 2022, 6:00 a.m. (With a rain date of July 29th, 2022) This section is approximately 3-metre-wide and will be treated with a low concentration of the following herbicides: Navius Flex, Torpedo EZ Herbicide and Gateway Adjuvant. The weed control mixture will be applied with a precision application vehicle outfitted with skirting to prevent overspray.  The remaining vegetation outside the ballast area will be maintained with conventional tractor mounted mowing equipment at a later date.

Herbicides Being Applied

The following herbicides will be applied by MVM Rail. These substances have been evaluated and approved by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.
Navius Flex Herbicide Reg. # 30922, Active Ingredients AMINOCYCLOPYRACHLOR and METSULFURON-METHYL, Under the Pest Controls Act (Canada).
Torpedo EZ Herbicide Herbicide Reg. # 33872, Active Ingredient FLUMIOXAZIN and PYROXASULFONE, Under the Pest Controls Act (Canada).
Gateway Adjuvant Herbicide Reg. # 31470, Active Ingredients MINERAL OIL - PARAFFIN BASE, SURFACTANT BLEND, Under the Pest Controls Act (Canada)

Vegetation Control Required Along Railways

Transport Canada requires the Region of Waterloo to maintain tracks to federal safety standards by eliminating vegetation on the railway tracks. Grass, weeds, and other plants can impede railway safety in a few ways:
• Plants growing over the tracks can cause slipping, which causes a train to take longer to stop.
• Dry plants can catch fire.
• The deterioration of the rail tracks is expedited when surrounded by plants and the moisture they contain. The roots can also upheave railway ties.
• Plants make it very difficult to inspect the tracks for potential problems.

Questions and Answers

Why does the Region of Waterloo need to remove weeds and vegetation along its train tracks annually?

Weeds and vegetation along railway tracks can cause fires, rail bed and track damage due to poor drainage, signal failures at road crossings, longer train stopping distances and/or poor site lines at trail crossings and roadways.

Weed removal is required to keep railway tracks safe as well as to allow inspections, repairs, and maintenance to Transport Canada standards. 

Has Region of Waterloo tried any non-chemical weed control options in the past, such as weed whacking? Have they worked?

The Region of Waterloo has used weed cutting/whacking in the past to control weeds, but this does not remove the roots, and actually encourages more growth therefore it is not an effective long-term solution for weed removal along railway tracks.

Why can’t the Region of Waterloo use a vinegar only solution to control weeds?

High concentrate vinegar does not control and eliminate weeds but temporarily burns the vegetation above the soil. The vinegar does not destroy the weed’s root system, which causes maintenance and drainage issues leading to track failure.

Many properties back onto the railway- Are the Herbicides safe to use in close proximity to people and pets?

Used according to label directions, the herbicides chosen have been evaluated by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) to be safe. PMRA has the toughest regulatory requirements in the world in approving and deeming products safe for use within Canada.

Where and when will the weed control take place?

Between Breithaupt St. (Kitchener) and First St. S (Elmira), excluding the section between King St. N and Northfield Dr. E. The work is scheduled to take place July 27th 2022, 10:00 p.m. to July 28th 2022, 6:00 a.m. (With a rain date of July 29th, 2022)

When was the last time chemical weed control was performed along the Waterloo Spur?

Weed control spraying was last completed in 2021 on the Waterloo Spur. Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) owned rail lines in the Region of Waterloo are sprayed annually.

What do other Ontario municipalities use as part of their weed control programs along rail lines? 

The Region of Waterloo and City of Guelph are the only known municipalities that own a railway line. Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) are the only other two railways that operate in Southwestern Ontario, their vegetation control plans and information can be found at the flowing web sites:

For More Information:

Alyssa Carr, Transportation Operations

Region of Waterloo

(519) 897-8673

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