Funding cut could take bite out of city's mosquito fight
Published Wednesday, January 3, 2018 12:13PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 3, 2018 7:32PM CST
A new report suggests Winnipeg and its bedroom communities could see more mosquitoes in 2018 because of a provincial funding gap.
The city currently provides mosquito larviciding for 10 surrounding municipalities.
A report to the parks committee states in May the Pallister Government notified municipalities with existing West Nile virus contracts that cost sharing would be eliminated or significantly reduced, resulting in a $620,000 shortfall.
If it is not made up by April 1, the City of Winnipeg says it will reduce the service area from 10 kilometres to eight kilometres.
The report states:
“The impact of reducing the larviciding area from 10 kilometres to eight kilometres outside the City limits may result in a slight increase in adult mosquito populations in Winnipeg, particularly in the suburbs adjacent to the City limits. Mosquito populations could also increase if there is excessive precipitation in the Capital Region or there are consistently high winds to aid the adult mosquitoes in their flight towards the City.”
A provincial spokesperson says changes have been made to the larviciding program for West Nile virus to focus resources on communities at the most risk.
“While changes to the program may seem at first glance like a reduction in Culex tarsalis mosquito population control, it is actually a more efficient use of resources that came as a result of a decade of experience and a better understanding of Culex tarsalis biology, West Nile Virus (WNV) infection and transmission dynamics… Resources have therefore been refocused to areas where they are most needed (high and moderate risk zones) AND where they can be most effective (communities with larger treatment areas). Under the new model, MHSAL also retains the flexibility to provide increased larviciding funding to eligible communities during the season, in the event that the WNV risk is elevated,” said the spokesperson.
The city report is recommending the city negotiate with the province and the surrounding municipalities for a new agreement.