Lakeside Leader staff
Owner Bobby Fred Hnatko was in Slave Lake Provincial Court on Dec. 12 representing Westlock – based Western Air Spray Inc. He was there to answer charges leveled against Western and Hnatko himself of providing false and misleading information to Alberta Environment and Parks officials among other offenses. These included spraying pesticide without holding an ‘aerial’ class pesticide applicator certificate or being supervised by someone with a certificate, and providing pesticide-application services without having a valid pesticide service registration.
According to the Crown Prosecutor, on July 4, 2016, a Western aircraft was used to spray pesticide near Donnelly, AB. When asked on July 6 for the required documentation regarding the spray application, Hnatko falsely identified the pilot of the aircraft.
In following up, Alberta Environment determined that the pilot named in the records had not been working for Western for quite some time. Hnatko was charged with and subsequently pled guilty to providing false and misleading information. The remaining charges were dropped.
This was not the first time Western Air Spray has had legal troubles with Alberta Environment. In 2016 the company was fined $12,500 when they admitted to spraying crops near Falher in 2013 using a plane without valid registration.
A joint submission from Alberta Environment and Hnatko’s legal counsel sought a fine and a year’s prohibition from spraying.
Presiding Judge G. W. Paul accepted the submission; he fined Hnatko $1,000 and ordered that he be prohibited from applying pesticide via aircraft for one year. Hnatko was granted a limited exception to spray his own land and that owned by his family.