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Turf War

Fri Oct 21, 2005 Miss Vicky 

Apparently the Health and Social Services Committee was packed yesterday - over 100 people and organizations showed up to make presentations about the proposed pesticide by-law. The committee is having a special meeting today to debate the motion and make a recommendation to council. It remains to be seen what they will decide - there was a good showing from folks on both sides of the debate.

Arguments against the ban seem to be limited to the following:

1) "If these products were so dangerous, why hasn't the government banned them? Why arent you pressuring them?"

Some organizations are pressuring the federal government to take action, and there has been plenty of debate on this issue in the last several years. If I recall correctly, a parliamentary committee chaired by Charles Caccia recommended the gradual phasing-out of cosmetic pesticides a few years ago. I think the recommendations were not acted upon by the government at the time - rather, they mandated a review of currently approved pesticide products (there are over 3000 of them), many of which hadn't been reviewed in decades. I read on this New Brunswick site that the Federal Pest Control Products Act hasn't been amended in any major way since 1969 - despite the huge amounts of research that has been conducted since then.

Canada doesn't have a particularly good record at investigating or regulating toxic substances, especially when industry raises its voice against any form of regulation - heck, we're still exporting asbestos! It seems to me the call to eliminate pesticide use is coming from the (*ahem*) grassroots, and once more communities take action, other levels of government will eventually catch up. That's not entirely a bad thing.

"This will hurt landscaping businesses"

I haven't heard any evidence that bans were disasters for businesses elsewhere. In fact, many are already touting organic and pesticide-free alternatives, recognizing there is a market out there. Yes, they would need to evolve, by phasing out their use of harmful chemicals. But people still want good looking lawns and weed-free gardens, and there are less harmful ways of getting one. One could see this as an opportunity for business, rather than a death knell.

"You can't tell me what to do on my property"

When what you do on your property affects the health and safety of others, they can. In June, 2001 the Supreme Court upheld a ruling that grants municipalities across Canada the right to ban cosmetic pesticide use on public and private property. The judgement endorsed the 'precautionary principle'- a concept in international law arguing that it is better to be safe than sorry.

Some people were moved to reply

amckay Oct 21, 2005 08:21 PM said:

You go girl! Couldn't have said it better myself!

Tell anyone to come by our house anytime they want to view what you can do without pesticides ;-)

Miss Vicky Oct 24, 2005 08:53 AM said:

Apparently the bylaw passed in the committee with a vote of 6-2. Council is another story entirely. They'll be debating this on Wednesday, so people should be calling their councillor to let them know how they feel. There will be a demonstration in support of the bylaw on Wednesday at noon at City Hall.

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