Councillor worries city could be liable for Lyme disease

Nick Seebruch
Councillor worries city could be liable for Lyme disease
This is a tick similar to those that carry Lyme disease.

CORNWALL, Ontario – The City of Cornwall Budget Steering Committee had previously cut $95, 000 from the grass cutting budget for Guindon and other city parks, now Councillor Rivette is concerned that this could leave the City in a legally vulnerable position if the tick population explodes.

To that end, Rivette made a motion during a meeting of the Budget Steering Committee on Monday, April 9, 2018 that $107, 000 be added back into the grass cutting budget, a motion that was voted down.

Rivette told the committee that he had sought advice on this problem from Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, the Medical Officer of Health with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU).

Dr. Roumeliotis responded to Rivette’s inquiry with a letter and graphic describing the tick problem in Eastern Ontario and Rivette shared that letter with local media.

“As you can see from the attached map published by Public Health Ontario, most of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area is now considered endemic or a high risk for the red deer or blacklegged ticks that carry and spread Lyme Disease,” the letter reads. “As these ticks thrive and grow in grassy and wooded areas, one of the main prevention approaches is to keep grass mowed short as an overall landscape management strategy.”

The attached map shows that most of Eastern Ontario, and Cornwall and SD&G in particular are in high risk areas.

“For this reason, I would recommend the City of Cornwall not reduce their lawn/ grass mowing activities, as leaving the grass tall would increase the risk of tick growth and the transmission of Lyme Disease to humans and domestic animals.”

Other committee members did not share Councillor Rivette’s concern that the City could be liable for an individual contracting Lyme Disease on City property.

“No,” said Mayor O’Shaughnessy when asked if he was concerned. “There are a lot of areas in the city that are not cut at all.”

Councillor Claude McIntosh said that the City would not be held liable because it was something that was impossible to prove.

“Dr. Paul was responding to a letter from a councillor,” he said. “How would you even prove you got bit by a tick on City property?”

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