Re­visit the pes­ti­cide by­law

Char­lot­te­town coun­cil’s de­ci­sion does not serve its cit­i­zens well

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY MAU­REEN KERR, JOAN DIAMOND AND ROGER GOR­DON Mau­reen Kerr and Joan Diamond are cochairs of Pes­ti­cide Free P.E.I. Roger Gor­don, Ph.D. is a bio­sci­en­tist and mem­ber of Pes­ti­cide Free P.E.I.

On be­half of Pes­ti­cide Free P.E.I., which has a Face­book mem­ber­ship of 2,300 peo­ple, we con­vey to you our ex­treme dis­ap­point­ment at the com­plete lack of lead­er­ship that elected of­fi­cials of our cap­i­tal city have dis­played re­gard­ing their de­ci­sion not to pur­sue the cos­metic by­law and in­stead, re­fer the mat­ter back to the province. The fact that many coun­cil­lors ran on a plat­form to ban these pes­ti­cides in last Novem­ber’s mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion makes the mat­ter all the more odi­ous.

In the first place, the En­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter had al­ready pub­licly an­nounced that he would be un­will­ing to take back the en­abling leg­is­la­tion that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties had asked for. Thus, play­ing a game of ping pong, as coun­cil chose to do, was des­tined to go nowhere.

Sec­ond, in de­fend­ing their po­si­tion not to sup­port the by­law, cer­tain coun­cil­lors raised the “red her­rings” that the pes­ti­cide lobby pro­mul­gated and pre­sented them as though they were in­sur­mount­able ob­sta­cles as op­posed to beat­able chal­lenges. The en­abling pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion is not per­fect. It per­mits the sale of some chem­i­cal pes­ti­cides. But, to sug­gest that the same chem­i­cals can be bought from a hard­ware store as are ap­plied to lawns by com­mer­cial sprayers is false. Me­co­prop and MCPA, the her­bi­cides used by these com­pa­nies, are not avail­able in stores. The in­sec­ti­cide Sevin and the her­bi­cide Roundup are avail­able, but only in lim­ited amounts and con­cen­tra­tions.

Then, the “prob­lem” of not be­ing able to spray on golf cour­ses and farm lands was raised. To our knowl­edge, all ju­ris­dic­tions in the coun­try in­clude these ex­emp­tions. More­over, Char­lot­te­town only has one golf course and it could be en­cour­aged to fol­low Audubon cer­ti­fi­ca­tion prac­tices to limit pes­ti­cide us­age as is be­ing done cur­rently on the Fox Mead­ows golf course in Stratford. As to “farm land,” we won­der what vast swaths of farm land would be at is­sue in the City of Char­lot­te­town.

It seems that coun­cil had no de­sire to look for so­lu­tions to real or per­ceived prob­lems and was un­will­ing to work within the pow­ers that had been granted. To deny com­pa­nies the power to spray lawns would have taken care of 90 per cent of the prob­lem, yet coun­cil chose to do noth­ing to pro­tect the health and safety of res­i­dents, nor their en­vi­ron­ment. Coun­cil has ig­nored the feed­back that it re­ceived from res­i­dents at the public meet­ing that it or­ga­nized. There is com­pelling ev­i­dence link­ing cos­metic pes­ti­cides to sev­eral forms of can­cer. Ap­pli­ca­tion of the Pre­cau­tion­ary Prin­ci­ple was called for.

In­stead of work­ing to­gether with other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, Char­lot­te­town chose to pur­sue a cava­lier “go it alone” route that has not served its cit­i­zens well. We call upon coun­cil to re­visit this im­por­tant is­sue of a cos­metic pes­ti­cide by­law at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity.

We fur­ther call for the res­ig­na­tion of Coun. Bob Do­iron as chair of the en­vi­ron­ment and sus­tain­abil­ity com­mit­tee as the stance he has taken and the ul­ti­mate course he has spear­headed are as far re­moved from sound en­vi­ron­men­tal prin­ci­ples and prac­tices as we can think of.

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