BCLocalNews.com – Council shows support for pesticide ban after hearing from Canadian Cancer Society

Dr. Warren Bell (right) of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment makes a presentation to council about the science behind the health effects of pesticides.

After hearing evidence linking pesticides to cancer, Revelstoke council looks like it’s ready to go ahead with a city-wide pesticide ban.

Council, sitting as the Committee of the Whole, listened to a presentation by representatives of the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) and followed it up by a discussion by on a report by city staff Tuesday afternoon.

Jerilynn Maki of the CCS told council about the research into pesticides.

“What we have been seeing is there are links between pesticide exposure and developing certain cancers,” she said, adding the pre-cautionary principle should be used.

“Even though we don’t have 100-per-cent conclusive evidence that if you are exposed to pesticides you are for sure going to be getting all those cancers, we are saying that there is enough evidence out there that we need to start taking pre-cautions now,” she said.

Dr. Warren Bell, representing the CCS and the CAPE, discussed several scientific studies on the health impacts on pesticides. He brought up one study that showed a link between exposure to DDT as a child and breast cancer and another that linked pesticides with lymphoma.

“This is not, ‘I believe’ or ‘This is my ideological perspective’ or “Trust me, I’m a doctor” stuff, this is actual blood-based research,” he said.

Support for a ban is wide-ranging, Maki said, with 31 municipalities in B.C. having already done so and almost 40 health, environmental and other regional groups in support of a ban.

“This is unprecedented that all of these organizations have come together and agreed on a joint statement around what they want for legislation around banning cosmetic use of pesticides,” she said.

The presentation by the CCS was convincing – councillor Tony Scarcella, who previously stated pesticides were not a health issue, said he now thought a ban was a good idea.

After the presentation, council turned to discussing a report by Penny Page-Brittin, the city’s environmental co-ordinator, which looks at how pesticide bans have been received in other communities. It indicates local landscaping companies would not be negatively impacted by a proposed ban.

A public education campaign would have to be part of any implementation of a ban.

“All the municipalities that have done this, they’ve all said that it is key if you’re going to do this to have a public education plan,” said Brian Mallett, the city’s director of engineering and public works.

A city-wide pesticide ban would not be comprehensive – the CP line, highway and other right-of-way’s would be exempt, noted councillor Phil Welock. Getting them to stop using pesticided would require a province-wide ban, something the CCS is pushing for, Maki said.

There are still questions that need to be resolved about the bylaw, namely who, if anyone, is exempted from the bylaw and how it will be enforced.

The draft bylaw included with the report provides an exemption for the Revelstoke Golf Course for the use of fungicides but Halberstadt said they should be grandfathered in. Maki said golf courses should be given three years to phase out pesticides.

Page-Brittin said she was unsure of how to proceed with the golf course.

“I did go through the list of alternatives for fungicides and I spoke with the superintendent this morning regarding the fungicides that are being used,” she told council. “It would appear it is difficult and there’s concern the quality of the course would suffer if fungicides were not being used.”

For enforcement, councillor Peter Frew said there’s needs to be penalties and deterrents in any bylaw that is passed. The draft bylaw contains an enforcement section but does not include any details about possible fines.

At the end of the discussion council voted on a motion for staff to do a final legal and administrative review of the draft bylaw, present it to council for adoption and to prepare and implement a communication and public education plan in time for the 2011 growing season.

BCLocalNews.com – Council shows support for pesticide ban after hearing from Canadian Cancer Society.