CN to conduct vegetation management through Jasper National Park

Scott Hayes/LJI Reporter/Jasper Fitzhugh CN will soon be conducting its annual vegetation management program with the use of herbicides.

Scott Hayes
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Jasper Fitzhugh

CN has advised the public that it will soon be conducting its annual vegetation management program through Jasper National Park.

“Each year, CN is required to manage vegetation on its right-of-way,” read a public notice. “Managing this vegetation contributes to mitigating fire risks and enhances the efficiency of inspection of track infrastructure.”

The railway right of way is between 30 metres or 50 metres from the centre track. That land is managed by CN.

The program requires the application of herbicides. The work has been contracted out to certified herbicide applicator Davey Tree Expert Company. 

The Fitzhugh reached out to CN for an interview to learn about both further information about the herbicide that would be used and for further details on incidents of fires on railway tracks and how this vegetation management program mitigates the risk.

In response, Ashley Michnowski, CN’s senior manager of media relations, replied with a link to a page on the company’s website containing information on the company’s vegetation management plan.

The page reads that Part II of the Rules Respecting Track Safety adopted by Transport Canada say that “vegetation on railway property, which is on or immediately adjacent to roadbed, must be controlled.” If not, this vegetation “may contribute to trackside fires, reductions in visibility at road crossings, reduced integrity of the railway roadbed and impair proper inspection of track infrastructure.”

Michnowski added that CN would offer a schedule for spraying and more information about its wildfire safety plan along its rail network in the coming weeks. 

The Fitzhugh repeated its original request for more information about the incidence of fires and the chemical used as the herbicide.

In response, Julianne Threlfall, CN’s manager of public and government affairs for Alberta and the Northwest Territories, replied with a link to the company’s Extreme Weather Fire Risk Mitigation Plan on its website.

That page reads that “an increased risk of fire, especially during extreme weather in the summer, can greatly impact the safety of communities along our network.” CN developed a comprehensive plan to reduce risks and increase prevention, monitoring and response to wildfires. The page does not indicate what the plan is. Instead, it offers a 1-888 public inquiry phone number for people to call.

Threlfall added that CN uses Health Canada-approved herbicides as listed on its website. The webpage for the company’s annual vegetation management program lists nine herbicides that CN uses.

“All pesticides used in Canada are approved for use in Canada and the province in which they are applied,” the page reads.

Health Canada considers herbicides to be a form of pesticides.

CN’s ad read that the program will only uses herbicides that have been approved for use in Canada and in the province within which they are applied.

Two of the herbicides have glyphosate as their active ingredient and two others on the list have Adjuvant as the active ingredient, which does not have a pest control product (PCP) registration number. A PCP registration number indicates that the product has been scientifically tested and approved for use in Canada.

CN’s notice reads that the program is expected to take place between May and October.

According to the 2024 Herbicide Spray Train schedule found on CN’s vegetation management webpage, a one-day spray will occur in CN’s Jasper yard on Friday, May 17. The schedule reads that it is highly subject to change and is meant to be taken as general guidance only.