Robinson pushing for ban on pesticides

A Coquitlam councillor says it’s time for the city to ban cosmetic pesticides — and if it doesn’t, she’ll make it a hot topic in November’s civic election race.

Coun. Selina Robinson is trying — for the second time — to push through the policy, noting 35 B.C. communities have now taken steps to eliminate such products from store shelves.

In May 2009, Robinson brought a motion to council to ask council to gauge public feedback on the topic; however, her motion failed in a tie vote, with councillors Brent Asmundson,  Mae Reid, Linda Reimer and Lou Sekora opposing it, citing private property rights and bylaw enforcement concerns.

Yesterday, Mayor Richard Stewart told The Tri-City News he plans to vote against Robinson’s motion at the March 7 council meeting as he believes the ban should come from senior levels of government.

Robinson argues the city can ban pesticides under the Community Charter and there’s ample evidence the substances are harmful, pointing to documents she has studied from the Canadian Cancer Society. As well, 400 Coquitlam residents have signed a petition to call for a cosmetic pesticide ban, she said.

(Port Moody already has a pesticide ban while Port Coquitlam does not.)

Robinson’s motion also proposes to have the newly formed environment committee review the ban and suggest ways to implement it.

She said she’s confident her motion will succeed this time around, saying, “I’ve been talking to my colleagues and sharing with them what I’ve been learning. There’s been many more B.C. communities that have done a ban and there’s more examples for us to draw on.”

The most recent municipality to take action was Terrace and, in April, Oak Bay will jump on the bandwagon, she said. “I think we’re one of the few Lower Mainland municipalities that haven’t addressed this.

“If this doesn’t pass I’m going to make it an election issue,” she said. “It got a lot of support when I went door-knocking last time and I’m prepared to bring that to our community again.”

But Stewart said while he’s on the same page as Robinson and personally eschews cosmetic pesticides, “what I think should have been done is refer this to the environment committee first to consider how we can do this,” he said.

“She and I actually don’t disagree on what ought to be done here, we just disagree on how you get there.”

In July 2009, on a recommendation by Sekora, city council voted unanimously to ask the federal and provincial governments to ban pesticides and other chemicals deemed to be unsafe by federal government scientists. Former councillor Fin Donnelly’s addition to include chemicals “that pose any risk to human or environmental health” was also adopted as part of the motion. 

Stewart, who endorsed Donnelly’s request, later called the amendment “a little bit ridiculous” and “craftily worded” as it encompassed too much.


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