Toxic council procedure kills proposed pesticide bylaw

Toxic council procedure kills proposed pesticide bylaw

Rossland's proposed pesticide ban died another procedural death this week, in the rather (ahem) toxic environment of the city's first council meeting of the year, with the mayor roaring about “criminals” and councillor Jill Spearn so disgusted by proceedings that she briefly lost the ability to speak.

 
Monday's introduction of Pesticide Use Bylaw #2495 marked something of a milestone in a long campaign by Prevent Cancer Now, a lobby group, to restrict the use of cosmetic pesticides within Rossland city limits as a public health protection measure. The group is no stranger to setbacks–the proposal to regulate pesticide use by bylaw was rejected in a tied vote in early 2010, but re-emerged in November with strong enough public support for council to agree to draft and discuss a pesticide banning bylaw modelled on one imposed by the District of Invermere in 2009.
 
One wonders if the issue proved so poisonous there.
 
Generally, the first reading of a bill is intended only to introduce a proposed law, and elicit some decision about whether to proceed with further discussion on it. But this bill had some troublesome bits. It was quickly amended-- and subsequently rejected.
 
The bylaw proposed to disallow residential pesticide use on public and private land within city limits, with exceptions for “agricultural and forestry land, transportation, public utilities, golf courses, recreational resort properties and any other property for which the approval has been granted by the federal or provincial government or an authority having jurisdiction over such matters.”
 
Jurisdiction is the key, according to Mayor Greg Granstrom, who insisted that the banning of legal substances is well beyond the scope of municipal responsibility and expertise.
 
“This issue is governed by Health Canada, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization; all recognize that pesticide use--when used as instructed--is safe, period,” he said. "[These organizations] are there to protect the citizens of Canada, there to protect the citizens of the United States, there to protect the world... we here in Rossland are here going to usurp their expertise... we do not have the right to say to the citizens of our community, ‘you cannot use a legal product’. All we're doing is making people criminals."
 
The bylaw also contained some uncomfortable language encouraging people to report illicit pesticide use to city hall, the only likely enforcement option given the absence of an active bylaw officer in the city.
 
“I'm very torn about this,” said councillor Kathy Wallace, carefully. “I certainly would never accept anyone saying I'm pro-pesticide use, but I think we have to be very careful about the tools that we use... The notion that we should encourage our citizens to come to city hall and report on their neighbour...I have a real struggle with this.”  
 
Even the proposed citizen-tattling enforcement strategy would require an impractical burden of proof, according to city administrator Victor Kumar. Several councillors spoke in favour of enacting the bylaw anyway as a symbolic political or educational gesture given the vocal community support, comparing it to the city's anti-idling or dog control bylaws, also not reliably enforced. Councillor Laurie Charlton took things one sizeable step further. 
 
“At best, this is a symbolic bylaw. I think it is meaningless because it is unenforceable,” said Charlton, who then drastically expanded the reach of the proposed law with an amendment to move beyond “squirting a few dandelions,” extending the ban geographically beyond city limits to include the entire watershed.
 
This after first proposing an amendment removing the exceptions for agriculture, golf courses, resorts and the like, which he dropped upon the mayor's plea to just get past first reading.
 
But Charlton's watershed amendment passed quickly, securing votes from councillors Kathy Moore, Hanne Smith and Andy Stradling, leaving other heads shaking around the table. Next, with the spectre of the complex and divisive watershed issues of 2008 now looming large, the pesticide restriction bylaw itself--now drastically revised--was sunk.
 
Mayor Granstrom, councillors Wallace, Charlton (despite proposing the amendment) and Spearn now voted against continuing past first reading. The issue cannot be revisited for six months.
 
“Because it got changed,” said Spearn, dejected. She had initially supported further consideration of a pesticide restriction bylaw. “That was procedurally awful." 

Comments

In our part of the world,

In our part of the world, control is achieved through the subtle means of media rather than the brute force of a police state (though that appears to be changing in Stephen Harper's Canada). Why? Because we can afford to sedate our population instead of brutalizing it. One of my favourite phrases is 'Big Brother is You, Watching' (Mark Crispin Miller). Empty entertainments and pointless news create a population that serves the interests of the wealthy (and dooms the planet), full stop. It's self-monitoring in its passivity. The elites of poor countries, unable to afford to placate their people, are forced to resort to the cheaper techniques of random arrests and violence. And, of course, as our economy starts to tank, we're seeing more of that in Canada.

While every country that has ever called itself 'communist' has certainly been a nightmare, I always think it's worth remembering that coercion can take many forms.

Thanks for putting up with my nitpicking!

"safe"pesticide

There are no "safe" pesticides. More and more infotmation is coming out how pesticide use in any form is damaging our environment and threatening our way of living , An extremely good book by Rowan Jacobsen found in the Trail library shows with extensive detail and research the effect of pesticides worldwide. Everyone should read this book. "Fruitless Fall" The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis

Congratulations to the mayor

Congratulations to the mayor and councilors of Rossland from staying off the pesticide free bandwagon. Rossland council is smart to dump this bylaw at first reading as they would have wasted allot of effort on a useless bylaw. It can't be enforced, has no basis in science and does nothing to prevent cancer. Canadian Cancer Society and Prevent Cancer Now are twisting the facts about pesticides. These groups and other anti pesticide groups do not recognize the findings of Health Canada, the WHO, The European Union and many other agencies that have done credible research into pesticide safety. They instead rely on a manipulated precautionary principle that would make one stop just about everything if you follow their logic.

Symbolic of what?

I totally fail to see the point of a "symbolic bylaw" that encourages me to spy on and report my neighbor's use of a legal substance to keep the bugs off their prize roses, or whatever, while allowing the golf course to spray away. What is it supposed to be symbolic of - a communist country?

 Hey, let's not gang up on

 Hey, let's not gang up on communism! I'd agree totally with you, Karen, if you used the word 'totalitarian state' (or 'nanny state'), but communism is just a theory and there's never been a valid example of it in the world.

I suppose there is some value to symbolic acts like the one recently contemplated. Perhaps, too, there's some poor soul out there looking to Rossland city council to help them orient themselves in this large and confusing world of ours...but I sort of hope not.

Anyway, if you want a good example of totalitarianism in action, leave the commies alone and check out Walmart USA: 

"Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced an expansion of the "If You See Something, Say Something" program with DHS video messages in 27 states inside 588 Walmart stores equipped with checkout video screens. "This partnership will help millions of shoppers across the nation identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to law enforcement authorities," said Secretary Napolitano."

Stupid? Yes. Scary? Yes, also. Remember: they laughed at Hitler (who executed communists, for what that's worth...)

Yes, totalitarian would have

Yes, totalitarian would have been a better choice. I suppose I thought communist because almost all the people I personally know who have lived in fear of being reported by their neighbors come from countries which called themselves communist. They are most certainly not the only states who practice control through fear however. Fear makes people and countries do strange things - at times Homeland Security in the U.S. sounds way too much like "Little Brother" - http://craphound.com/littlebrother/download/ I'd be interested to know how many people in Rossland actually use pesticides. I don't, and I don't think any of my gardening friends do either. What are we chasing here? Is there any real local data?