Speakers urge council to ban cosmetic pesticides
EDMONTON – Despite almost a dozen speakers urging councillors Monday to ban cosmetic pesticides, city council decided to continue its current pest management approach.
“The system will go on as is,” Coun. Michael Oshry said following a community services committee meeting.
The city was asked to ban cosmetic pesticides several times the past 20 years, most recently turning down the idea in 2012 over concerns about controlling invasive species, cost and lack of proof about the benefits.
Almost a dozen speakers urged councillors Monday to copy limitations imposed by more than 170 other Canadian municipalities, although none in Alberta.
Speakers argued weed killers and other chemicals are linked to cancer, neurological diseases, birth defects and other ailments, even though they’ve been cleared by Health Canada.
“Real change continues to be hampered by the current city policy … where using herbicides is at the discretion of the parks department,” Elizabeth Beubien said.
“They want to keep these tools in the tool box, but these tools are poisonous to people and the natural environment.”
Edmonton follows integrated pest management by dealing with weeds, insects and other problem species through non-toxic methods such as better turf care and biological control of harmful bugs before applying chemicals.
The city put out 2,461 kilograms of pesticide active ingredients in 2013, down 45 per cent since 2001, a recent report says.
Much of that chemical was used to kill microbes in Hawrelak Lake so the water would be safe for swimming in international triathlon events, although amounts have dropped, the report says.
Weed Man lawn care manager Lori Heidt, the only speaker to oppose banning non-essential pesticides, said practices are always improving through such moves as Alberta’s ban on weed-and-feed chemicals.
“Our city’s policy … is an example of how far we have come,” she said.
“Much of the information you hear today will be opinion based. My hope is you will use factual-based science to make your decisions, which unfortunately we haven’t heard much of this afternoon.”