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Coquitlam pesticide ban delayed
Coquitlam’s new green committee will have a hot topic next month for its first meeting: whether to ban cosmetic pesticides.
On Monday, city council unanimously voted to send Coun. Selina Robinson’s motion to the yet-to-be-struck sustainability and environmental advisory group, saying it wants “expert opinion” on a proposed restriction on pesticides.
Coun. Mae Reid, chair of the city’s land use committee, said she didn’t want council to make a decision without consulting the new committee, which is expected to be made up of Coquitlam residents working in the environmental sector.
“I don’t want to pass something and then say, ‘By the way, folks, here it is. You might be professional. You might be qualified but we’ve already made up our minds, thanks. Just come up with a whole bunch of reasons to support us.’ That’s not right and it’s not fair,” she said.
Robinson’s motion called for council to ban cosmetic pesticides and let the committee and city staff work out the details.
Coun. Linda Reimer, chair of the city’s environmental committee, called Robinson’s motion “a great idea” but said she needed more background. Reimer said most people in Coquitlam want to see a ban at the municipal level, which is permitted under the Community Charter.
A deflated Robinson shook her head throughout the debate. She brought a motion to council in 2009 to get public feedback on pesticide use and it was defeated.
She also took aim at councillors Reid and Reimer, who “were not the least bit interested in hearing from the community 18 months ago when I first brought this issue to the table.” She added, “I don’t have the confidence to ensure the matter receives the attention it deserves.
“When people get cancer — even in a community where there’s a ban on pesticides — it means absolutely squat,” Robinson said. “But we do know that if you do live a community where they do spray pesticides, the increase of cancer goes up considerably.
“It’s spring,” she said. “People are going to start spraying their gardens and putting us and their pets and the environment and our children at risk.”
During question period, city council took heat from members of the Tri-City Green Council and Coquitlam Council Watch, who pressed about the composition of the new committee, whether council’s tactic was to delay the ban and how much research was needed given that the Canadian Cancer Society backed Robinson’s motion.
Mayor Richard Stewart defended council, saying it “isn’t abdicating its responsibility. I concur with those councillors who say it’s inappropriate to set [an environmental committee] up and make the environmental decisions without them.... I do want to get their advice,” he said.
Coun. Lou Sekora said if the committee recommends a ban, he would support it as long as it’s enforceable.
The committee has until June 30 to make its decision.
WHAT THE CITY DOES
In general, Coquitlam city hall has an “environmentally sensitive” policy to handle weeds, bugs and diseases on public lands managed by the parks and rec department. But the integrated pest management approach does allow for chemical interventions when needed, Lori MacKay, Coquitlam’s parks general manager, said Tuesday.
In the past few years, the rose garden at Dogwood Pavilion has had a touch-up with fungicide and insecticide. As well, some landscaping along traffic medians have used herbicides to kill weeds.
In those cases, signs are put up a day in advance of the application and left there for 48 hours, showing the name of the product in use and a contact number, MacKay said.