Salmon Arm Observer – City goes in circles on pesticides

Plans to review and amend the city’s pesticide bylaw have been delayed once again.

At the Monday, Dec. 6 meeting of the city’s development and planning services committee, which begins at 8 a.m., items on the agenda had taken council members to nearly 10:15 before they reached the review of the Pesticide Use Control Bylaw. The review has already been deferred a few times over the past two months.

Although Coun. Debbie Cannon, who spearheaded the bylaw, urged council to continue until the item was completely dealt with, Coun. Kevin Flynn noted that he had other commitments pending. Council then voted to continue to 10:50 a.m. before adjourning.

Also attending the meeting was Jerilynn Maki, regional health promotion co-ordinator with the Canadian Cancer Society. She said the cancer society has been advocating to municipalities across the province to ban the use of pesticides for cosmetic uses on private and public land.

She said the society has reviewed scientific evidence and found there is no health benefit to pesticides, and long-term, low-grade exposure to pesticides is linked to cancers.

“It’s really important to know cancer doesn’t happen overnight.”

Mayor Marty Bootsma said one problem he and some other councillors have with the existing bylaw is with regard to hard surfaces such as sidewalks. Weeds push up and form cracks, the surface freezes and then breaks apart, which can be very costly, he said.

Coun. Kevin Flynn reiterated Bootsma’s sentiment, saying he liked Maki’s reference to “cosmetic and beautification” purposes.

“I have concern when the impact on hard infrastructure has significant long-term effects… I don’t think the bylaw is properly worded – that’s been my concern all along.”

Cannon said pesticides eventually go into the drain and end up in the lake. She said that in providing options for weed control on hard surfaces, she’s heard the concern that ultimately people may tend to use the easiest, least labour-intensive route to control weeds – pesticides – if they are given options.

Pointing to bylaw wording regarding hard surfaces, Cannon pointed to the phrase “environmentally friendly and cost-effective.”

Brad Ackerman, the city’s parks and recreation foreman, said the city would first use such methods as Aquacide (hot water), a Tiger torch, manual removal and acetic acid. If they weren’t effective in bringing the growth down to a manageable level, alternatives such as pesticides would be used.

“Who makes the decision and how many times do you try?” Cannon asked.

Ackerman said: “We would be evaluating what we have for resources and look at the level of weeds.”

Bootmsa remarked: “It’s interesting that hot water, that needs to be heated, and Tiger torches are considered environmentally friendly.”

Flynn said he has trust in staff, while Cannon said she wasn’t referring to city staff; the reason she mentioned the issue was the wording, which doesn’t let staff know exactly what they must do.

Coun. Alan Harrison asked about the survey of 34 pesticide bylaws that staff did. Of them, 26 – or 75 per cent – do not allow pesticide use on hard surfaces. As well, 75 per cent do not allow people trained in integrated pest management to be exempt from the municipal cosmetic use pesticide ban.

Flynn made a motion that he said he knew wouldn’t pass, and he eventually didn’t support it himself. He moved that people certified in integrated pest management should be exempt from the bylaw.

Coun. Ivan Idzan said while he doesn’t want ‘IPMs’ to deal with pesticides for beautification purposes, if pesticides are needed to control noxious weeds, it’s the trained people he wants to apply them.

Flynn agreed he does not want IPMs to spray for cosmetic and beautification purposes.

Coun. Chad Eliason said he doesn’t want pesticides in Salmon Arm.

“If the provincial government comes back, as the Union of BC Municipalities asked them to do… Until then, we need to take steps to ensure there are no pesticides in Salmon Arm.”

Flynn’s motion was unanimously defeated, and council’s review will continue at a yet-undetermined date.

Salmon Arm Observer – City goes in circles on pesticides.