By Gary McKenna – The Tri-City News
Published: March 24, 2011 2:00 PM
Updated: March 24, 2011 2:58 PM
There could be stiff penalties for Port Coquitlam property owners who use banned chemicals on their lawns and gardens for cosmetic purposes if a new pesticide bylaw is adopted by council.
The draft document states that fines of up to $10,000 could be levied for people who use garden chemicals deemed bad for the environment and unsafe for human health on private property. Municipalities across the country have adopted similar regulations due to concerns about health and environmental risks associated with the use of pesticides.
But while the punishment could be costly, Igor Zahynacz, the city’s director of engineering, said under the draft bylaw, the size of a fine would depend on the situation and such a penalty would only be imposed as a last resort.
“The bylaw is intended as an educational bylaw,” he said. “It will really depend on the circumstances.”
With these kinds of bylaw infractions, Zahynacz said step enforcement is generally used by city staff to bring a resident into compliance. A person in contravention of the bylaw would first receive a verbal warning and, if he continued to disobey the regulations, a written warning would be issued. After that, Zahynacz said, it is possible that fines could be levied.
Port Coquitlam has been pushing legislators in Victoria through the Union of BC Municipalities to adopt a province-wide pesticide ban. Zahynacz said a patchwork of pesticide bans currently exists between municipalities in B.C., making the rules difficult to enforce.
“To be effective, there needs to be more of a provincial approach,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of jurisdiction. It is more off an advisory bylaw until such time the province adopts legislation.”
But with no action on the issue at the provincial level, Zahynacz said councillors in PoCo felt it was time for the city to adopt rules of its own.
The city’s environmental enhancement committee is waiting for more information from the Canadian Cancer Society and is expected to forward the draft bylaw to council for discussion in the coming months.
Port Coquitlam was one of the first municipalities in the country to stop using cosmetic pesticides on city lands and promotes natural lawn care techniques on its website. Port Moody previously banned use of pesticides for cosmetic reasons and the topic has been discussed by Coquitlam council.