Daily News Archive
October 17, 2006
with Lawn Pesticide Ban
(Beyond Pesticides, October 17, 2006) The
cosmetic use of pesticides is an issue that will likely be decisive
in the upcoming November 13 municipal elections of Ottawa, Ontario.
The city has not historically been able to reach an agreement about
unnecessary pesticide use despite the fact that 122 communities across
Canada, including the entire province of Quebec, have chosen to restrict
cosmetic use of pesticides.
After a second motion to ban the cosmetic use of pesticides failed last
autumn, Ottawa’s incumbent mayor, Bob Chiarelli, pledged to challenge
councilors on the controversial proposal and make it an election issue.
If Mr. Chiarelli or mayoral candidate Alex Munter are elected, the ban
is expected to pass, but if challenger Larry O'Brien is elected, the
outcome is uncertain.
Despite a call for a ban on the use of pesticides for lawns and gardens
by the Canadian
Cancer Society, due to the rise in cancer rates and evidence linking
pesticides with cancer, Mr. O’Brien is taking the stance of Croplife
Canada (reported in Daily
News, April 14, 2006), claiming the evidence still does not paint
a direct link between pesticides and health hazards.
Peter MacLeod, the executive director of CropLife Canada, a trade association
that represents pesticide companies, rejects the cancer society's argument.
According to Mr. MacLeod, "I think that their explanation is very
simplistic and misleading." Mr. MacLeod continued by saying no
pesticide used in Canada is known to cause cancer, and that he believes
towns and cities should steer clear of regulation. Although the call
for the ban is coming from the Canadian Cancer Society, Mr. MacLeod
said, "We just feel that municipalities by and large do not have
the scientific capacity to make that choice, whether a product should
be used or not. We should leave that to Health Canada."
Ottawa was very close to passing a ban last year, but got mired in the
implementation details. According to the Ottawa
Citizen, a first motion before council in October 2005 ended
in a tie vote, 10-10, and a motion two weeks later was defeated 12-9
when councilors could not agree to hold a plebiscite before instituting
a full ban due to a debate about what constituted an infestation. Councilors
were willing to put exemptions on the ban should weeds cover a certain
percentage of a resident's lawn, but couldn't agree on the percentage.
"Two-thirds of city councilors agreed there should be a bylaw.
All the polling showed that residents believed there should be a bylaw.
Even the lawn-care companies agreed there should be a bylaw," said
Mr. Munter, who was the chairman of the city's health committee when
the pesticide debate first hit city hall in 2002. "So, we had this
consensus around a bylaw last fall that then broke down around the details
. . . My point is, we shouldn't be talking about this. This issue should
be crossed off the to-do list, and it's not." He summarized, "This
is a health and safety issue. This is about the protection of our soil,
our water, our sewers, the health of our kids and of all people."
According to the Coalition
for a Healthy Ottawa, an additional nine pesticide by-laws are at
the draft stage in Canada pending adoption.
ACTION: Why can’t the U.S. do what Canada is doing?
Learn about State
Preemption Laws and how, due to industry lobbying, all but nine
states in the U.S. ban their local municipalities from passing pesticide
ordinances that are more protective of public health than state laws.
See our Tools for
Change for model U.S. local policies and information on organizing
your community for change.