City to control pesticide use: [Final Edition]

By Sarah Ripplinger, Nelson Daily News
23 July 2007: 1 / FRONT

Nelson could be the first community in the East and West Kootenay to pass a pesticide bylaw that limits pesticide use in the city to permit holders only says Patti Moore, community action co-ordinator with the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Once it’s adopted, Nelson will be the first in the Kootenay region with a bylaw, which is huge,” said Moore, who is also a member of the Kootenay Citizens for Alternatives to Pesticides, a non-profit organization that advocates for a ban on pesticide use.

“I think it’s really setting a good example for other communities and I think Nelson’s a bit of a role model.”

Mayor John Dooley said he was proud of the steps councillors have taken so far towards possibly passing a pesticide bylaw for the City of Nelson.

“The council showed clear leadership of bringing Nelson to the forefront and being one of the first communities in the province of British Columbia to establish a bylaw like this,” he said.

The City of Nelson pesticide bylaw would enforce a permit process for those who wish to apply pesticides to their lawns. Residents would first need to fill out an application form at City Hall and pay a $20 fee to legally apply pesticides to their properties.

THE HIDDEN HEALTH RISKS

Moore said members of the health community are particularly concerned about the use of pesticides because many of the chemicals found in pesticides are listed by the Canadian Cancer Society as potential carcinogens.

“We’ve taken the position calling for a ban on the cosmetic or non-essential use of cosmetic pesticides and the reason is we are very concerned about the use of potentially cancer-causing substances for the purpose of enhancing the appearance of, for example, gardens, lawns, parks, recreational facilities and golf courses,” she said.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has published numerous reports linking pesticides to forms of cancer, which worries Moore that not enough is being done soon enough to curb the potentially harmful effects of pesticide use.

“[Pesticides are] linked to childhood and adult cancers including leukaemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, brain cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer, and that’s only speaking to cancers, you know, there’s certainly other health risks and environmental issues as well,” she said.

AT THE FORE OF A PROVINCIAL MOVE

At least seven municipalities in British Columbia have already passed pesticide bylaws, including Maple Ridge, Gibsons, West Vancouver, Port Moody, Cumberland, Comox and Vancouver.

Fernie city councillors are currently reviewing recommendations put forward by their Integrated Pest Management Task Force on how best to move forward with placing restrictions on pesticide use in their city.

“A broad and diverse group of stakeholders of the community put in more than two years of research from experts on the subject and have achieved consensus on a recommended course of action to address the use of pesticides in our community,” said Allan Chabot, chief administrative officer with the City of Fernie. “I think a pesticide bylaw is important potentially for human health and for the health of the natural environment.”

The task force is recommending that council pass a bylaw to regulate the use of pesticides. This would include a three-step process to encourage homeowners and private-land-holders to reduce the use of pesticides on private lands and would set restrictions on the amount of pesticides that can be applied.

Education would be the first step of the pesticide reduction program, followed by a voluntary pesticide registration program implemented at retail stores to track how many customers are purchasing pesticides and how much they are buying. The third step would involve enforcing a buffer zone for pesticide free areas.

Chabot said that although city councillors are looking at potentially banning pesticide use in the city sometime in the future, there are still many hurdles that will need to be overcome before a complete ban can be properly enforced.

“It’s pretty hard to regulate people going and purchasing products such as Weed’N Feed [which contains pesticides] out of town and bringing them in the trunk of their car and using them,” Chabot said.

Fernie council will be reviewing recommendations by the Integrated Pest Management Task Force in the fall.

Nelson council will bring up the pesticide bylaw for adoption July 23 following the Committee of the Whole meeting at City Hall that will begin between 6:30-7 p.m.

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