Area residents out in the Bull River, Fort Steele, Mayook and Wardner communities will get the chance to hear a preliminary assessment on mosquito populations and breeding grounds next week.
A few local residents have spearheaded the effort to get a report done after a few tough mosquito seasons, according to Rob Gay, Area C Director for the RDEK.
Culex Environment Ltd. completed the report for the aforementioned communities, which do not have a mosquito treatment plan.
“There has been a great deal of work behind the scenes by a group of residents to gather historical data regarding mosquitoes and the next step was to have a formal assessment done so we have a baseline understanding,” said Gay.
Residents and representatives from Culex Environment and the RDEK will deliver presentations on Monday, Nov. 3 at the Wardner Community Hall.
The areas have been without a treatment plan for over 10 years, according to Gay. There was a proposal that was voted down by residents before his time as RDEK representative.
“We’ve done this before in Wardner and it actually went to a vote and was turned down,” said Gay. “It was before my time in politics, but I wanted to make sure the community was behind it [this time].”
After an initial community meeting, residents agreed to go to the next step, which was using some community-directed funding from the Columbia Basin Trust to complete a Phase One study.
“What it did is they went to fairly common-sense areas along the Kootenay River on both sides where it floods—of course when you get the floodwater, the mosquito eggs are there, and they can last for 15 years and up come all these mosquitos,” said Gay.
“What the community has found is probably in the last 10 years, rather than every third and fourth year being a bad year, being a bad mosquito year, they’re saying every second year and in fact, some years, they’ve had two years in a row of bad mosquitoes.
“When it’s bad out there—I’ve been there—you cannot go outside for probably two months.”
Now, with the presentations in hand, it will be up to residents to decide the next step. Culex Environment has estimated costs for an average and a bad mosquito season.
“That all translates into how much we have to pay for it,” said Gay.
One of the possible reasons that the communities declined to put a treatment plan in place over 10 years ago may have been the cost, according to Gay. Back then, taxation for the initiative was based on assessed value rather than a parcel tax.
“The thought there is that mosquitos aren’t selective when they bite someone—they’ll bite a guy with a big house the same as a guy with a little house,” joked Gay.
This time, if residents choose to go forward with it, the RDEK can apply a parcel tax, which is a flat rate tax regardless of assessed value, according to Gay.
Residents from Fort Steele, Mayook, Colony Road, Bull River, Wardner and Norbury Lakes areas are encouraged to attend the meeting.