Revisit the pesticide bylaw
Charlottetown council’s decision does not serve its citizens well
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.