Candidate Questions 12: A controversial bylaw to ban “cosmetic” pesticides in town failed to get through council twice in the last term. How did you vote or would you have voted?

Rossland Telegraph
By Rossland Telegraph
November 18th, 2011

Here, in our last installment of Candidate Questions, is one that pertains to the use of pesticides on Rossland’s lawns. And here it is: “A controversial bylaw to ban “cosmetic” pesticides in town failed to get through council twice in the last term. How did you vote or would you have voted”

CARY FISHER: I understand the fear people have with pesticides.  Judging from city boulevards and playing fields I don’t think this is much of an issue.  The amount of pesticide use in Rossland would have to be minimal.  With the ongoing technological advances I think limited pesticide use is ok.

JODY BLOMME: There are currently at least 171 communities in Canada who have restricted cosmetic pesticide use.  I have to say that I am generally sympathetic to the argument of personal property and personal decisions, but, ultimately, those pesticides do flow out of your yard and into the environment of all of us.  There are just too many well done scientific studies that conclude that these chemicals have terrible effects on human cells and systems and on watersheds.  Too strong a link has been made between cosmetic pesticide use and childhood cancer.  Because of bioaccumulation, which is the ‘multiplication effect’ of chemicals up the food chain, even small amounts of pesticides become very toxic.  The costs of these chemicals far outweigh the benefits, and too many people are potentially affected far too seriously to just ignore the issue.  If Rossland is truly working towards becoming an environmentally responsible and sustainable town, this is one of the big issues that does need to be addressed.

I believe in having personal rights to one’s own backyard and what one wishes to do in it, but sometimes, the technicalities are just too strong.  Technically, cosmetic use of pesticides causes bad things to happen to the health of good people, and the environment on the whole.  I definitely do believe that increased regulation and making more bylaws is generally an inferior solution to any problem, but I think that in this one case, the chemicals are just too poisonous.

If the ‘push back’ against this idea is too strong, then I guess the next option would be to launch an educational campaign on the effects of chemical pesticides and healthier alternatives. Whose responsibilities this would fall under, I’m not sure, but I would be willing to be a part of it.

KATHY MOORE: I support this bylaw- yes, it is non-enforceable and no, we don’t really have an issue here in Rossland. The main point of the bylaw is to send a message to the Province that yet another BC city supports the ban. I think 36 municipalities have passed a bylaw banning cosmetic pesticides. We are bombarded by chemicals every day, I think its fair to try to control some of what we ingest, inhale and are otherwise subjected to when we have the chance. There is enough evidence to convince me that there is no need for these chemicals in our lives, especially when other, more benign alternatives exist.

KATHY WALLACE: I voted against the first time because I felt it was out of local jurisdiction and would be unenforceable without requiring neighbours to police each other. The second time, I was in favour until an amendment was made to include all lands within city boundaries. It is returning to the table and I plan to support it as a statement from the community to the province.

LAURIE CHARLTON: This is definitely a “cosmetic” law.  Any such bylaw would be strictly symbolic. It would be unenforced and unenforceable.  Because many pesticides are still available in BC they will continue to be used whether there’s a ban in place or not.  If the province, which has jurisdiction over cosmetic pesticides, decides to ban them, they will not be available and the issue would be settled.  The province is certainly in a better position to determine the relative safety of pesticides than the City of Rossland.  The primary pesticides used by homeowners contain 2,4 – D which was recently the subject of a court case under NAFTA rules.  A US manufacturer challenged a ban imposed be the province of Quebec.  As a result of that case, Quebec has agreed with Health Canada that 2,4 – D , can be used safely when label directions are followed.  Considering the limited amounts of cosmetic pesticides containing 2,4 – D used by typical homeowners I don’t believe there is an undue hazard.  Images of people dressed up in hazmat suits while spraying fruit trees put forth by some people as a reason to ban the use of 2,4 – D is overly dramatic and unrealistic.  Such spraying would continue because it is not a cosmetic use.

SHARON WIEDER: Making a statement is important.  As I understand it, not many people use the pesticides anyway.

DAVID KLEIN: I don’t want to tell people what to do on their own property, but would advocate moving forward in educating people regarding known health risks and negative environmental impacts. Thus, I would be all for a ban on cosmetic pesticides in town and find other products/procedures to take their place. I see us behind many other municipalities in BC.

To read previous installments of Candidate Questions, click here. To go to the Telegraph’s Elections 2011 home page, click here.

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