In 2000 Alex was elected to the City Council of the newly amalgamated City of Ottawa, representing Bay Ward, and was re-elected in 2003 and 2006. During his tenure he fought for a pesticide bylaw
Bylaw banning the Use of Pesticides
The issue of a city bylaw banning the cosmetic use of pesticides continues to be an emotional topic for both sides of the question. Advocates of the bylaw continue to argue that for cosmetic use it is better to be safe than sorry. Companies selling pesticides and some individuals argue that the science shows no dangers associated with the use of pesticides. The question can be highly contentious and can hurt community relations.
Citizens campaigning for the bylaw face a complex challenge because of the way pesticides are regulated. The
Federal Government, under the Pest Control Products Act (PCPA), is responsible for pre-market approval and
registration of pesticides. Provincial governments regulate the post-registration sale, use and distribution of the
products within their boundaries. Citizen-activists argue that the existing federal and provincial legislation doesn't go far enough to protect citizens from routine pesticide exposure in their communities.
A recent study by the Canadian Centre for Pollution Prevention, which looked at nine communities in Canada, the U.S. and western Europe, suggested that education campaigns at best will reduce cosmetic pesticide use by between 10 and 24 per cent — far short of the city's goal of a 70-per-cent reduction. "The education programs clearly have not done as well we would have liked," said Dr. Robert Cushman, the city's medical officer of health.
He added that "the time has come" for the city to start controlling the cosmetic use of pesticides.
"The risk outweighs the benefits," Dr. Cushman said. "We know (pesticides) are in the water, in body fat, in breast milk."
Given the increased support from the medical community for banning pesticides, Mr. Cullen, councillor for Ward 7 – Bay (580-2477, Alex.Cullen@ottawa.ca) says he is "not prepared to wait until 2005" to change Ottawa's
pesticide laws. He plans to bring a proposal on the matter to council this year.
This time, Mr. Cullen believes, history will be on his side. The city of Toronto is already phasing in a pesticide ban after it survived a court challenge from an organization representing pesticide companies.
Similar laws have been passed in Vancouver and Montreal as well, Mr. Cullen says, adding that the city's health,
recreation and social services committee — the body that will initially look at a pesticide ban — has a much more
anti-pesticide bent to it than it did before last year's municipal election.
Go- Manor Park, while its members are anxious not to cause community strife over the issue, will continue to make every effort to reduce the use of pesticides in our neighbourhood and to support the introduction of a municipal bylaw banning the cosmetic use of pesticides.