Winnipeg's city councillors, staring into the headlights of a civic election, are flopping around trying to seize hold of every populist issue in sight to save their skins from a restless electorate.
At the last council meeting of the summer on Wednesday they voted 10-4 (against the usual dead-end rump) to radically change the rules on mosquito fogging.
They want the city to start fogging sooner, before the number of mosquitoes caught in monitor traps reaches nuisance levels instead of after. They want to reduce by a day the notice given to homeowners that fogging is starting. And they want to shrink the buffer zones that have allowed anti-malathion nutbars to effectively kneecap fogging efforts on their streets.
All the news stories refer to "100 metre" buffer zones. CBC (demonstrating again how the best reporting in town is now on television news) earlier this summer used a reporter walking along a residential street while unrolling a tape measure to illustrate how long 100 metres actually is.
It got us to thinking.
There are, according to the city, 1606 buffer zones. At 100 metres each, that's 160,600 metres or 526,902.9 feet which cannot be sprayed with malathion to kill mosquitoes.
We kept going.
There are 5280 feet in a mile. And that means that 99.7 miles (yes, you read that right, 99.7 MILES) of the city are not sprayed because of the anti-fogging lunatic fringe.
Almost ONE HUNDRED MILES of mosquitoes within the city go untouched every spraying cycle.
But....is it even worse that that?
In June, St. Vital councillor Gord Steeves sent a news release to media outlets regarding mosquito control.
He said that a 100-metre buffer zone "can mean a non-application area of as many as 32 to 40 houses." That certainly jibes with the visual demonstration on CBC-TV as far as the number of houses affected goes.
However, there's a problem with the numbers. 100 metres is about 320 feet. Using the very minimum of 32 houses, that's only 10 feet per house. What house has a ten-foot frontage? In St. Vital?
Assuming a more representative 30 foot frontage, the 1606 buffer zones could encompass 1.5 million feet or 292 MILES of the city that go unsprayed for mosquitoes.
The geniuses at city hall have allowed this to go on for how many years?
Do any of them deserve to be reelected?