Not much support for Cavers’ pesticide bylaw
A proposed ban on all cosmetic-pesticide use in the City of Kamloops isn’t finding much support from city council.
Coun. Donovan Cavers is bringing forth a notice of motion today, proposing the city pass a bylaw to ban all cosmetic-pesticide use.
The bylaw would come into effect in two stages. First, the city would stop using pesticides on its own properties as of August. On January 1, 2013, the ban would take effect in the rest of the city.
This will be the second time Cavers has proposed a pesticide ban.
In February, he introduced a similar notice of motion, which was pulled when council indicated it wanted to wait to see if the province would enact its own ban.
However, a recent report from the province’s Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides stated there is no scientific evidence to support a ban, prompting Cavers to revisit the motion.
Two councillors said the recommendation from the committee is just that — and it might be better to wait on the province a bit longer.
“There are about 20 municipalities that have already enacted pesticide bans and then more like Kamloops that have restrictions on who can apply pesticides,” said Coun. Nancy Bepple.
“When it’s that universal, it really suggests the province should step up to the plate.”
Bepple does support a ban on cosmetic pesticides for health and environmental reasons, but isn’t sure Cavers’ proposed bylaw is the right move at this time.
She is also hoping for more information on how it would be implemented.
Coun. Arjun Singh said he does support a ban and has in the past, but would prefer to have it come from the province.
However, he said getting city staff to stop using the chemicals is a good next step.
“In terms of doing the City of Kamloops stuff, I think we can do it now,” he said.
“In terms of an all-over cosmetic-pesticide ban, I would wait to see what the province does.”
Councillors Marg Spina and Tina Lange are concerned Cavers’ proposed bylaw would be too restrictive.
Lange would like to see a ban on pesticides for the general public: “It’s not necessary to spray chemicals to kill dandelions — dandelions are people, too.”
Spina said she has questions about the science behind the ban and thinks it could be too limiting should the city need to deal with invasive-plant species.
“If we don’t have something in place for invasive weeds and we go to such a drastic step as saying no pesticides, what do you do then?”
“I would need to see much more full information on the what-ifs before I could support that.”
“It really doesn’t matter what other areas do. They’re not the Tournament Capital,” Coun. Pat Wallace said.
“We’ve got massive fields that people enjoy playing on.”
Wallace said parks, recreation and culture director Byron McCorkell has told council pesticide alternatives don’t work well on city fields and gravelled areas.
Coun. Nelly Dever also raised concerns about maintaining the city’s fields, adding she feels current restrictions on pesticide use “are more than sufficient.”
“I don’t see my neighbours spraying their lawns, using illegal pesticides,” she said. “I think there’s more than enough control. I don’t mind pulling out weeds in my backyard but, when it comes to our fields, no.”
Dever is, however, willing to hear what other councillors have to say on the issue and expects Cavers’ motion to be amended before it comes to council for discussion and a vote on June 12.
Here is Cavers' presentation on his proposal:
Non-Essential Cosmetic Pesticide Use
Whereas cosmetic pesticides cannot be fully contained to a single location but move through the environment in water, air, and soil;
And whereas there is widespread concern in the City of Kamloops that the use of non-essential, cosmetic pesticides pose needless risk to the health of residents, especially the elderly and young children with developing immune systems;
And whereas effective, alternative cosmetic pest controls exist;
And whereas the application of cosmetic pesticides contributes to the cumulative chemical load absorbed by our natural environment;
And whereas cosmetic pesticides have an impact on non-target organisms and plants;
And whereas numerous reputable health advocacy organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, the BC Lung Association, and the BC Public Health Association strongly urge eliminating the use of cosmetic pesticides;
Therefore be it resolved that the City of Kamloops prohibit the use of cosmetic pesticides internally on all city owned properties effective August 1st, 2012;
And be it further resolved that all landscaping services contracted by the City of Kamloops comply with this regulation when servicing City grounds effective August 1st, 2012;
And be it further resolved that the use of cosmetic pesticides be prohibited within the municipal boundaries of the City of Kamloops on all properties effective January 1st, 2013. I will be submitting a notice of motion for the proposed pesticide restriction by-law stated above which will be discussed and potentially adopted at the June 12th Council Meeting.
This proposal is a stepped by-law with the City leading 6 months prior to the bylaw taking full effect which will ultimately prohibit the use of pesticides in the City. As there has been some confusion I would like to emphasis that this proposed bylaw is targets cosmetic (or ornamental) pesticide only.
Last year Premier Christy Clark set up a Legislative Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides to investigate a potential province wide ban, chaired by MLA Margaret MacDiarmid, a family physician and former president of the B.C. Medical Association. Unfortunately when MacDiarmid was promoted to cabinet, the chair went to Bill Bennett-- an outspoken right-wing rural MLA. This change in the chair shifted the course of the committee.
On May 17th, the Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides released a 100+ page report which could essentially be summed in two words... "do nothing". The executive summary states:"...the majority of members  concluded that currently there is insufficient scientific evidence to warrant a province-wide ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides."
"...The minority , however, concluded that there is sufficient scientific evidence available for a province-wide ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides."
The Special Committee was made up of 5 Liberals and 3 NDP. As is not in the least bit surprising, the hyper-partisan MLAs found a way to fundamentally disagree on the issue -- the members were divided along party lines.
Bennett's majority ruling also rejected the pro-ban submissions of roughly 80 per cent of the over 8,600 individuals and organizations that presented to the committee -- a record number for a committee in B.C.
In the May 18th edition of the Kamloops Daily News, the owner of a local lawn care company had critical words for me given my interest in creating a more robust municipal cosmetic pesticide bylaw. It should be noted that Kamloops’ current pesticide bylaw is not a ban and is among the weakest such bylaws in BC, if not Canada.
The lawn care company owner was quoted as having said:
“I hope council appreciates the work the provincial government went through. Coun. Cavers has never done that. They’d be making a decision based on personal beliefs, not the facts.”
The lawn care company owner obviously assumed that the Special Committee had come to consensus on the issue. Apparently she made a decision based on belief, not the facts.
Consensus? Unanimous? Nope, neither.
If, as has been suggested by pesticide enthusiasts, these substances aren't a health risk, I would like to ask any cosmetic pesticide applicator three very simple yes or no questions.
When you apply pesticides, do you:
A. wear protective clothing and/or a breathing apparatus?
B. indicate that the lot has been treated with pesticides by placing signage on it after application?
C. warn the landowner to keep children from playing on the lawn and/or to keep pets inside?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, why? If pesticides do not pose any risk to human health, then why are these precautionary measures necessary?
The fact is, all of the above safety measures are necessary because exposure to pesticides is harmful to your health and potentially your neighbours as well. Pesticides still in use today are linked to a variety of cancers. The Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, the Lung Association, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Public Health Association of B.C. all advocate for stronger restrictions on pesticides in BC.
I have a hard time understanding why anyone would be resistant to the idea of limiting exposure to these substances through prohibiting their use for cosmetic purposes, especially when there are many, many effective, non-toxic alternatives.