City council is not ready to commit to a five-year-old initiative to restrict the use of pesticides.
Council was asked by city staff at last week’s council meeting to reaffirm an old resolution to develop a bylaw that would control the cosmetic use of pesticides on both public and private lands within the city.
The new law would have regulated the use of pesticides on outdoor trees, shrubs, flowers, ornamental plants and turf.
The city’s Environmental Advisory Commission first recommended the bylaw in the fall of 2007 based on strong public and community organization support for pesticide control.
Following the recommendation, the city purchased a pesticide awareness service, Nature Works, which helped people choose alternatives to pesticides. That service ran from 2008-2009 but was no longer available in 2010. At that time, staff prepared a draft pesticide bylaw and provided pesticide awareness information on the city website. But since then, there has been no official direction from council.
A staff report to council last week recommended council move forward with the pesticide bylaw despite findings from a provincial government special committee on pesticides.
“The majority of the committee concluded that currently there is insufficient environmental or health-realted evidence to warrant a province-wide ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides,” said Terri Martin, the city’s environmental co-ordinator, and Amber Zirnhelt, city sustainability manager, in their report to council. “The minority concluded that there is sufficient scientific evidence available for a province-wide ban.”
Although the province-wide ban was not recommended, 40 communities including the Comox Valley, Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach, Tofino, Saanich and Victoria have their own pesticide bylaws.
City staff said a pesticide bylaw makes sense for Campbell River too as it “supports current city policies and aligns with the recent recommendations to reduce unnecessary pesticide use.”
Ron Neufeld, the city’s manager of general operations, recommended creating a working group to develop the bylaw and help raise awareness.
“It’s intended to minimize the impacts of the internal organizations and external businesses that rely on the application of pesticides,” Neufeld said. “So when the bylaw is in place, the business community is prepared and able to adjust seamlessly.”
Coun. Andy Adams thought the committee would be a waste of time.
“I look at the report and it talks about setting up a stakeholders group,” Adams said. “That takes staff time. Why would we do that when the province has already done that? Let’s entertain it or not but let’s not spend staff time on it.”
Coun. Claire Moglove said she was not prepared to support a bylaw regulating the use of pesticides before finding out whether or not the province will enact a B.C.-wide ban.
In the end, council passed a motion directing staff to come back with a report recommending a suitable bylaw and the financial ramifications on the city.