Proposed non-essential pesticide ban off the council table
By Kate Hamilton
Posted 1 day ago
Council has put an end to the debate over a proposed pesticide ban.
After hearing from representatives from the Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta Environment and Water, Landscape Alberta and many members of the public speaking both for and against a ban on non-essential pesticide at the council meeting on Oct. 25, a motion to not move forward with a pesticide bylaw at this time was carried unanimously.
"We've heard so much discussion on this and I think it's time to put an end to this for now," said Coun. Louise White-Gibbs. "This must be a provincial initiative, if not federal. Doing it at the municipal level, there is absolutely no way that we can enforce it. This council has always shown that we are environmentally friendly — that's why we hired an environmental coordinator. We are looking at different things but (a pesticide ban is) one thing we cannot control."
The other councillors were in support of White-Gibbs' motion.
"Common sense and education should prevail on this issue," said Coun. Larry Goodhope.
"I think we have a lot more to gain by educating our population and making people aware," added Mayor Camille Berube.
Beaumont resident Tammy Schmidt has been advocating for council to implement a pesticide ban within the Town of Beaumont for months. She first came before council on Aug. 23 and has since garnered support from the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS).
Sarah Hawkins, CCS advocacy coordinator for the capital region, spoke at this week's council meeting of the potential connection between pesticides and the incidence of cancer.
"The Canadian Cancer Society has a mission to eradicate cancer and improve the quality of life for people living with cancer. We know that to achieve this mission we have to be actively engaged in cancer prevention by advocating for public policy," said Hawkins. "We look at factors in the environment that may be contributing to cancer incidence and we need to begin eliminating risks where possible."
She said the society's precautionary position on pesticides is based on peer-reviewed scientific evidence.
"There is already a growing body of evidence linking pesticides to cancer," Hawkins continued. "The potential of harm (has been deemed) significant enough to advocate for a ban on all non-essential pesticide use."
She defined essential pesticides as those used for the purpose of improving public health, such as those used for agriculture and water sanitation. Non-essential pesticides, she said, are those that "offer no countervailing health benefits to justify the potential risks associated with pesticide exposure."
Hawkins said there is a need to advocate for a ban at the provincial level (Quebec, Ontario and other provinces already have a ban in place), but the CCS is looking to municipalities to take the lead.
"In Quebec and Ontario, action was led by dozens on municipalities before it went provincial," she said.
Josh McIntosh, pesticide policy advisor for Alberta Environment and Water, presented the department's position on pesticide use.
"All pesticides for use in Canada have to be approved by the pest management regulatory agency of Heath Canada," he said, adding that both federal and provincial laws really impress upon the user the importance of adhering to label directions.
He said the department's objective is to realize the benefits of pesticides while minimizing risks, and to put an emphasis on integrated pest management.
Nigel Bowles, executive director of landscape Alberta, said it doesn't matter where pesticides are used or for what purpose, all must meet the safety standards, and products are reevaluated by Health Canada every 15 years.
"There is no justifiable reason to ban or restrict the use of any pest control products in the Town of Beaumont," he said.
"On occasion I've had to use chemicals that some people are trying to ban but I've used them as a last resort and I've followed the label," added Jeff Wotherspoon, a Beaumont resident and owner of Cheyenne Tree Farms. "If we start a ban at the cosmetic level, where's it going to end?"
Town administration presented a memo with information regarding potential health effects of pesticides, current legislation, restrictions in other municipalities across the region, management of pesticides at the local golf course and bylaw enforcement if a ban were to be put in place.
The information revealed that there are currently no other pesticide bans in place in Alberta, and administration's recommendation was for council to simply accept the memo as information.
"If nothing else, we've increased awareness," said Berube, once the decision to not move forward with a bylaw, for now, was handed down. "A lot of work has been done over time to look at greening the community and hopefully there's more research that we can do to make our practices more environmentally friendly."