Temporary closure of Spur Line trail due for vegetation control

Posted on Thursday June 24, 2021

The Region of Waterloo will close a section of the Spur Line Trail in Waterloo July 28th 2021 from 10 p.m. to July 29th at 6 a.m., with contingency dates to follow that same week if required, to remove vegetation along the neighbouring railway tracks.

Grass, weeds, and other plants growing over the tracks can impede railway safety by causing fires, railway bed and track damage, signal failures, slower stop times, and poor site lines.

The Region has hired DBI Services to complete the work along the Spur Rail Line between Breithaupt St. (Kitchener) and First St. S (Elmira). This excludes the section between King St. N and Northfield Dr. E. The railway track bed will be treated with a low concentration of herbicides approved by Health Canada. The weed control mixture will be applied using equipment that prevents overspray by using spray “skirts” that limit spraying to a three-metre wide section . 

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. 

What herbicides will be applied during the removal of the vegetation?

The herbicides listed below be applied by DBI Services.  These substances have been evaluated and approved by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.

  • Navius FlexHerbicide Reg. # 30922, Active Ingredients AMINOCYCLOPYRACHLOR and METSULFURON-METHYL, Under the Pest Controls Act (Canada).
  • Esplanade SC Herbicide Reg. # 31333, Active Ingredient INDAZIFLAM, Under the Pest Controls Act (Canada).
  • Gateway AdjuvantHerbicide Reg. # 31470, Active Ingredients MINERAL OIL - PARAFFIN BASE, SURFACTANT BLEND, Under the Pest Controls Act (Canada)

Has the 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 19th 2021 from 10 p.m. to July 20th at 6 a.m., with contingency dates to follow that same week if required.

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

Weed control spraying was last completed in 2020 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 Ontario municipalities that own a railway line. Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP) are the only other two railways that operate in Southwestern Ontario. Vegetation control plans and information can be found at the flowing web sites:

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