Mayor cor­rect. Pes­ti­cide by­laws needs con­sis­tency

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - EDITORIAL -

Stratford of­fi­cials are tak­ing poetic li­cence with the re­sults of the fourth an­nual res­i­dents’ sur­vey re­leased this week. The town in­ter­prets the num­bers to paint a gen­er­ally pos­i­tive pic­ture with the di­rec­tion be­ing taken by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. And it con­cludes that res­i­dents seem to be happy with the town’s po­si­tion on the con­tro­ver­sial topic of cos­metic pes­ti­cides.

That isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the case. In re­sponse to a sur­vey ques­tion, 74 per cent are in favour of some sort of a ban or re­stric­tion. That doesn’t mean they are happy with what the town has done to date on the is­sue. The topic has been front and cen­tre on the town’s radar for more than 12 years. Af­ter years of de­lays and false starts, it was only in the past sev­eral weeks that the town fi­nally said that some sort of by­law would take ef­fect on Jan. 1, 2016. The de­lays have frus­trated many pro-ac­tive res­i­dents in the town who have lob­bied long and hard for ac­tion.

If the ques­tion were asked: ‘ Are res­i­dents happy with what the town has done to date on cos­metic pes­ti­cides?,’ the an­swers would surely be very crit­i­cal. Only 12 per cent of res­i­dents re­spond­ing don’t sup­port a ban while 14 per cent didn’t know, didn’t an­swer or didn’t care. Public com­ments will be ac­cepted un­til July 7 on what the new by­law should con­tain.

Is Stratford Mayor David Dun­phy se­ri­ous when he says the idea is to en­act a con­sis­tent by­law that would set up rules sim­i­lar to Char­lot­te­town, Cornwall and Summerside? In Char­lot­te­town, a by­law was pro­posed, then amended, then em­broiled in de­bate and at last word the city was hop­ing to un­load the whole pes­ti­cide is­sue back onto the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

The prob­lem is this: There is no con­sis­tency among the four largest mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties on the Is­land and it’s re­mote there ever will be. The cur­rent pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion only pro­vides mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties with the au­thor­ity to reg­u­late the use of non-do­mes­tic pes­ti­cides, by li­censed ap­pli­ca­tors, for land­scape pests only and not the au­thor­ity to re­strict or ban the use of do­mes­tic pes­ti­cides by home­own­ers di­rectly. The whole is­sue re­mains a mess and while Mayor Dun­phy is right in seek­ing con­sis­tency, go­ing it alone isn’t the right path to fol­low.

The sur­vey didn’t even bother to put the sewage la­goon on the sur­vey. There would be 100 per cent agree­ment that the sewage odour is one of the big­gest is­sues fac­ing the town, so why bother stat­ing the mal­odor­ously ob­vi­ous?

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