Skip to content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer

CP right-of-way spot herbicide application in the Shoreacres

Update from Andy Davidoff Area I Director

CP right-of-way spot herbicide application in the Shoreacres area (approximately CP Mile 14 Boundary Subdivision):

Background / Purpose:

CP routinely conducts ballast (road bed) and right-of-way selective herbicide applications across our system, including all of our rail lines in the Kootenays, to meet a variety of federal (Transport Canada) mandated requirements as well as internal CP safety objectives.

The corridor from Nelson to Castlegar (Boundary Subdivision) is one of several very high priority areas in BC where brush and tall weed growth is impacting visibility for personnel operating trains and track maintenance equipment.

CP also utilizes selective herbicides to control Noxious Weed / Invasive Plant to meet provincial regulations and regional district / invasive plant committee expectations.

Date / Time

On Wednesday, August 28 CP retained an experienced, qualified and provincially licensed vegetation management service provider to conduct targeted right-of-way brush and Noxious Weed /  Invasive Plant control along the corridor from Nelson to Castlegar. The herbicide application commenced about 08:00 am at Nelson working south towards Castlegar. Based on a maximum application speed of 6 mph, the application truck passed through the Shoreacres area approximately  10:30am.

Treatment Conditions:

Conditions for the herbicide application were optimum. Air temperature was about 15 degrees Celcius at Nelson where the work commenced and only rose to about 23 degrees by the time work wrapped up in Castlegar in the early afternoon. Winds were very light ( < 5 km/h) and humidity was low with no precipitation forecast for the next 24 hours.  Essentially “text book” perfect for the type of application being conducted.


A CP Patrol vehicle with an experienced foreman (based in Nelson for the last 25 years) with extensive local knowledge of the area was operating approximately 1,000′ ahead of and maintaining radio contact with, the herbicide application truck. In addition to providing communication with any trains or other track maintenance crews in the same area the purpose of the patrol was to help identify and communicate any unique environmental sensitivities in advance to the spray truck. As well, the patrol also advised any trespassers walking along the tracks of the pending herbicide application. The manager of the vegetation program (the undersigned) was also traveling in parallel by road to check on the application. (In fact I was standing on the right-of-way less than 10′ from the herbicide application in the Shoreacres area taking pictures of the application truck as it went through).

Application Details

For the 2013 program, the goal was to treat brush and tall weeds within 25′ of the tracks to improve visibility of signs, around curves and in rock fall areas. Based on a standard right-of-way width of 50′ on each side a treatment buffer to any neighbouring properties of at least 25′ was maintained in all areas.

For 2013 no treatments were conducted within a quarter mile down the track on each side of any road crossing (crossing sightlines in the area were all treated previously in 2012). In areas with multiple road crossings in one location (e.g. Thrums) long stretches were not treated at all during the 2013 program.

As per provincial regulations the applicators maintained a minimum 10m pesticide free zone around all water bodies, including dry creek beds. In practice and based on monitoring by the undersigned, applicators were exceptionally cautious and in most locations the buffers applied far exceeded  the minimum setbacks stipulated in provincial regulations.

Herbicide Used

The herbicide selected for this program was Tordon 101. Tordon 101 is CP’s default right-of-way herbicide as it provides safe, broad spectrum, selective control of a variety of unwanted brush and Noxious Weeds species in BC. Tordon 101 does not affect grass species whose presence on the right-of-way is compatible with railway safety requirements. The active ingredients that make up Tordon 101 (picloram and 2,4D) have very low acute mammalian toxicity. Tordon 101 has a long and proven track record of safe use by a variety of industrial users across the province. The only potential challenge with Tordon 101 is that the 2,4D contained in the mixture does have a distinct odour that may linger in treated areas for up to 24 hours in some instances. However, odour is not a reliable measure of relative toxicity (e.g. 2,4D is also one of the main active ingredients used in a variety of commonly available home & garden weed control products such as Weed N’ Feed and Killex and is also used widely in agriculture on farms in proximity to the food we eat).

As requested: a Tordon 101 Fact Sheet and more technical information (MSDS) is attached. Please note: MSDSs are designed to provide information to qualified personnel involved with the handling of concentrated product or to first responders dealing with a major spill. When Tordon 101 is used for railway right-of-way applications it is heavily diluted and mixed at 30:1 in water.


Treatment conditions for the vegetation control program recently conducted between Nelson and Castlegar were ideal. The precautions taken by the patrol and applicators (e.g. buffer zones) met or exceeded provincial requirements. The work was also directly supervised by the CP system manager who was on site to ensure all work met expectations. As a result no off target issues (e.g. drift) or related impacts on neighbouring residents in Shoreacres or any other community in this corridor is anticipated. Incidental by-stander exposure with herbicide residues is only possible via trespass on to the tracks through wooded areas immediately after herbicide application (e.g. road crossings and open / high foot traffic areas such as designated trails were not treated during this program). In any case once sprays have dried, usually 1 – 5 minutes, the potential exposure risk to any residues drops off very significantly.

If you or your constituents have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned.

David Spata

Vegetation Management Specialist

Canadian Pacific

Office: (250) 612-0324

Cell: (403) 993-9860 (24 Hours)