By Lachlan Labere – Salmon Arm Observer
Published: October 12, 2010 6:00 PM
Updated: October 12, 2010 10:13 PM
Public health versus weed control, be it by the municipality or private industry, is once again being debated by city council as they review Salmon Arm’s pesticide bylaw.
It’s been more than a year since the Bylaw 3744 was adopted, its intent to regulate the cosmetic use of pesticides, in response to concerns about the risks they “may pose to the health and well being of the environment and residents.”
After facing outcry from lawn and landscape maintenance business representatives who utilize Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, council, in April directed city staff to review the bylaw and have a report available at the end of the summer.
The report, dated Aug. 30, poses to council several possible exemptions from the bylaw, precluded by a list of comments and concerns related to staff’s experience with the bylaw. Among these, it is noted that many provisions within the bylaw are confusing to interpret for staff and the public, that there have been many complaints relating to city and private lands; that alternatives to pesticide use have resulted in increased costs to the city; that there has been no enforcement of the bylaw; and that lawn and garden pesticides continue to be sold in stores.
Addressing the staff-recommended exemptions, all of council, including Coun. Debbie Cannon, who sat on the select committee that came up with the bylaw, were in agreement that the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s noxious weed program, along with the Sterile Insect Release (SIR) program utilized by the tree-fruit industry to control the coddling moth, should not be included.
“This is something the pesticide select committee totally agreed on,” said Cannon about exempting the “environmentally-friendly approach” utilized by the SIR program. “They totally respected the SIR program and said that… We were remiss in not having that in the original cosmetic pesticide bylaw.”
But Cannon drew the line there, not supporting any further exemptions, such as one proposed for rural fruit trees and gardens. She highlighted the ambiguity of “gardens”, which may be vegetable or flower. Leading the charge in favour of exempting gardens was Coun. Kevin Flynn, who argued sustenance gardeners should have the option to use pesticides should they need it.
“To me it seems pretty ironic that we would encourage people to grow vegetables in their gardens and spray pesticides,” commented Coun. Alan Harrison. “So I could not support that piece of the bylaw.”
Despite Flynn noting a difference between encouraging and permitting, the majority of council agreed not to exempt gardens.
Also recommended was an expansion of the use of pesticides by the city’s parks and recreation department. Parks foreman Brad Ackerman explained there are circumstances where pesticide alternatives recommended by the bylaw are just allowing staff to keep weeds at a “tolerable threshold.”
Before approving any further exemptions, however, Flynn asked that staff provide better definitions of “cosmetic pesticide” and “hard landscapes” in order to better protect city infrastructure and reduce long-term costs. He also asked that staff look at other communities with pesticide bylaws, and the pros and cons they’ve experienced in allowing or prohibiting the operations of IPMs.
The discussion could not be completed in the time allotted, so another meeting will be scheduled.
Salmon Arm Observer – City wavers on pesticide law.