Another Taxpayer Funded Canadian Cancer Society Survey: Most Edmonton councillors would ban cosmetic Pesticides


Most Edmonton councillors would ban cosmetic pesticides

Also favour banning smoking around children, according to Canadian Cancer Society survey

Don Iveson
Don Iveson

Photograph by: Ryan Jackson,

EDMONTON — A majority of Edmonton city council supports calls to ban cosmetic pesticides and prevent smoking around children, according to a Canadian Cancer Society survey.

Seven of the 13 council members ticked “yes” when asked “will you support a ban on the use and application of pesticides on private lawns and gardens, as well as public parks and recreational facilities for non-essential purposes?”

Most also backed a bylaw to restrict smoking around playgrounds, although there was less support for including parks in such legislation.

Opinions were also mixed on a proposal to stop drivers from lighting up if children are in the vehicle.

“I am fully prepared to support a ban where one individual is negatively affecting another. I think this case can be made in playgrounds,” Coun. Ben Henderson wrote in response to the survey of civic election candidates. “In outdoor parks, however, I think it is more difficult to make the case that an individual smoking is doing harm to anyone but themselves.”

But there is no call by councillors to immediately outlaw pesticides or smoking around children, which the cancer society says are linked to numerous illnesses.

Coun. Don Iveson wants the city to find ways of using fewer pesticides on its own land, and have the public follow suit.

Chemical applications on private yards can end up in the drainage system or on neighbouring property, he said Thursday.

“Ultimately, I would like to see the elimination of dangerous chemical pesticides from our city. How we get there is not entirely up to me. That’s going to be a council process. There will be plenty of debate.”

He and colleagues Karen Leibovici and Linda Sloan asked last month for information on the feasibility of a bylaw restricting or eliminating lawn and garden pesticides in Edmonton. That report is due in January.

Iveson does want the province to deal with smoking concerns, saying it should be forbidden when kids are present. The main purpose of a bylaw would be to prod government action.

Coun. Amarjeet Sohi would like to prohibit smoking at playgrounds, but needs more data before deciding whether a bylaw, public education or other steps would be most effective.

He also feels more study is required into alternatives to using pesticides against weeds and mosquitoes.

“There are huge health implications for all the things we do, and a huge financial cost for society, but we also have to look at provincewide initiatives in these areas.”

Sarah Hawkins, community engagement co-ordinator with the cancer society’s Edmonton region branch, said its initial focus will be on pesticides because of the upcoming report. While a ban shouldn’t include farms or spraying to protect people from diseases, there are safer options than chemicals to control most lawn weeds, she said.

“We don’t consider a couple of dandelions in a yard a health concern.”

Mayor Stephen Mandel’s survey response said the city has severely restricted its use of pesticides for six years.

He favours starting with a voluntary program to test the acceptability of public pesticide limitations with communities and retailers.

But Hawkins said an outright ban is the only effective way to benefit people’s health.

“Just because you’re not using pesticides doesn’t mean your neighbour isn’t using pesticides, and they spread.”

To see the entire survey, go to

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