Is it time for Coquitlam to consider a cosmetic pesticide ban? « Selina Robinson – Coquitlam City Councillor

Is it time for Coquitlam to consider a cosmetic pesticide ban?

Posted on October 6, 2010.

The evidence that pesticides put us at risk continues to mount.  The latest to come across my desk is about Round-Up and its teratogenic (birth defect) effects. Sigh.

Last year I brought forward a Notice of Motion to invite the Coquitlam community into a consultative process to see if we ought to consider a ban – the notice of motion was only supported by Councillors Lynch, Macdonnell, Donnelly and myself so it was defeated.  I was rather frustrated given that I couldn’t even get a community dialogue lead by Coquitlam Council to happen.

Every month or so another BC municipality enacts a pesticide ban demonstrating a solid understanding that a) the Community Charter gives municipalities the power to ban cosmetic pesticide use and b) that we have the right to be protected from harmful (and potentially harmful) chemicals when they serve no other purpose than to beautify our surroundings (which is rather objective, given that dandilions are actually quite pretty!).

I haven’t been idle on the issue.  I have been gathering information, talking with my colleagues on council to better understand their concerns in order to determine what it would take for them to consider a cosmetic pesticide ban in Coquitlam.  Here are some of the arguments I have heard so far:

It’s not our jurisdiction….(actually, the Community Charter is very clear that we have jurisdiction to ban cosmetic pesticides in our community)

The Province needs to act by banning the sale of these products…(I agree, but it can take a long time for the Province to act, we have an opportunity to act on behalf of our residents and when municipalities push with such a ban, then the Province is more likely to act).

People will just spray their lawns under the cover of darkness…(This may occur on occasion, but the ban needs to be accompanied with a strong education component.  We already have teams of staff educating the public on invasive weeds, we can simply have them add more content to their presentations about how to manage your lawn/gardens sans chemical pesticides.  I believe that most of our residents are law-abiding citizens and take their health and the health of the neighbours seriously).

We already have too many by-laws…(Perhaps, so why not get rid of some of our outdated ones.  I suspect that there are plenty on the books that are likely irrelevant.  I don’t see this argument coming up when other by-laws are brought forward)

We need more by-law officers and that will cost too much. (Most of our by-laws are complaint based and most citizens are law biding.  We can introduce a ban by investing time and energy educating residents before the ban comes into place so that they know what the alternatives are and they can make better choices.  The ban can be phased in so that we will have  fewer people using cosmetic pesticides, fewer complaints and little demand on our by-law staff).

The government has no business telling people what to do on their property.…(I don’t know how to respond to this one…I think this is a difference in values.  Until we can either prove that chemical pesticides are safe (i.e. do not pose any risk of harm) or that they cannot leach, or blow onto neighbouring property, then public health is more important than personal property rights.  By the way, Coquitlam Council unanimously supported a by-law requiring residents to remove Giant Hogweed from their property given that it poses a significant public health risk  –  Council made a good decision here by recognizing that public health is more important than personal property rights – not sure how this is different from cosmetic pesticide use…..)


I hope to bring something forward in the near future that will demonstrate that Coquitlam Council does recognize that banning the use of cosmetic pesticides is a public health issue that our residents deserve to have addressed.

Stay tuned.


About Selina Robinson


I have lived in Coquitlam with my husband Dan and our two children, Aaron and Leya since 1994.  I was elected to Coquitlam Council in November 2008.  I currently sit on the Land Use and Economic Development Committee and the Engineering, Utilities and Environment Committee.  I am the Vice-Chair of the Disabilities Advisory Committee, the Maillardville Revitalization Task Force and the Coquitlam School Board Liaison Committee.   I represent the City of Coquitlam on the Tri-Cities Homelessness Task Group and I chair the Coquitlam River Aggregate Committee.

Prior to being elected I worked for SHARE Family and Community Services as the Director of Development, a role that has provided me with a solid understanding of community issues and helped me to develop relationships with community leaders and others who live, work and play in Coquitlam.  I have a Masters Degree in Counselling Psychology and have spent most of my professional life working with individuals, families and communities in the non-profit sector.  My work has provided me with many opportunities to engage in a collaborative process, bringing people together to realize a common goal.

When not engaged in council business, I maintain a small private counselling practice, teach counselling skills for UBC’s Life and Learning Centre, volunteer at Finnie’s Garden located on the Riverview Lands and run or cycle my way around our community.

I believe that…

Coquitlam is an amazing city.

Coquitlam residents deserve leaders commited to engaging in a respectful decision-making process that addresses livability, economic vitality, social justice, accountability and sustainability.

I am the right choice for Coquitlam City Council as I am someone who listens, advocates and has a solid history of representing others.