by Kyra Hoggan on 22 May 2013
A group of local residents is using three Facebook pages, an online petition, and several hard copy petitions to try to pressure the City of Castlegar to ban pesticide use in city parks and play areas.
Elise Bourgeois, a mother of three who lives right next to Millennium Park, said she opposes any kind of spraying at all.
“People are shocked to hear the dangers, because they haven't been informed,” she said, adding the group intends to present the petition to city council as a delegation. “The main ingredient in the pesticide they want to use in Millennium Park is 24D, which is the same chemical used to make Agent Orange.
“It's been linked to Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, multiple melanoma, prostate, kidney and lung cancers,” she said. “Small children are at the most risk, they're down there, breathing it and crawling on it and putting it in their mouths.”
She said she also has concerns about its impact on the deer that graze in Millennium, not to mention small animals, birds and insects that are vital to our ecosystem.
“We need to protect our children, water quality, animals … our future,” she said, adding pesticides have already been banned in 38 BC municipalities as of 2011, and the UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) has already passed a resolution calling for a province-wide ban on the sale and use of pesticides.
Not everyone, though, agrees with the stance.
“Castlegar Minor Soccer Association has worked closely with the City Of Castlegar to improve all of the soccer fields in the city, including levelling, turf repairs, drainage and weed control,” said representative David Grantham. “It is important that soccer fields be maintained at a high quality, both for the safety of those who use them, as well as to maintain a professional appearance when visitors come to play from other towns for league or tournament play. We understand the city is testing 'no pesticide' areas, and this is a positive first step. Once it is clearly demonstrated that there are effective ways to manage weeds and maintain a high quality playing field, we will be glad to support and work with the city in whatever direction is taken.”
Councillor and chair of the city's public works committee, Kevin Chernoff, said the city absolutely is working toward a no pesticide paradigm … but says we're not there yet.
“The city works within strict guidelines of a Pest Management Plan that has to be approved by the Ministry of Environment. All proper procedures are followed before, during and after any application,” he said. “We have had some concerns with signage and have asked our contractor to post additional signage. Parks are continually monitored for weed populations to limit the amount of any herbicide that is used, but occasional applications may be necessary. This ensures that only areas that require treatment, receive it.
“Most parks will require a maximum of one application per year, in addition to other good landscape practices like regular mowing, proper irrigation, fertilization, aeration, top dressing, etc.,” he added. “Long term, the city is testing several different pesticide free products throughout the city to see if we can effectively move to pesticide-free weed control in all our parks. We have used Eco-clear (citric acid) on sidewalk weeds for the last couple of years. At Kinsmen and Blueberry Parks we are testing an organic fertilizer and corn gluten combination (no pesticide spraying here at all). Additionally, we are testing a brand new product called Fiesta at the City Hall and RCMP grounds, which is basically an iron solution. As more low-risk products emerge on the market, we will test them for effectiveness as we gradually move to more eco-friendly products.”