Pesticide ban one step closer in Coquitlam

An advisory group looking at whether Coquitlam should join a long list of B.C. municipalities that have banned pesticides is recommending the city follow suit.

Last week, members of the Sustainability and Environmental Advisory Committee voted in favour of the city drafting a pesticide use control bylaw that would prohibit gardening chemicals from being used on outdoor trees, shrubs, flowers, other ornamental plants or turf on private and public lands.

But the recommendation, which is expected to be debated at Monday’s engineering committee meeting and will likely be forwarded to the July 4 council meeting, doesn’t apply to pesticides under the BC Integrated Pest Management Act such as animal repellents, deodorizers and domestic insect repellents. That act also allows pesticides to be used if a person or animal’s health is in jeopardy, or if public safety or the environment are threatened.

As well, the proposed bylaw wouldn’t apply to agricultural or forestry pest management; land for transportation or public utilities not owned by the city; urgent infestations; and biological controls.

Steffanie Warriner, manager of Coquitlam’s environmental services division, said a key component of the committee’s recommendation is to form a public education and outreach program. Its proposal calls for a one-year phased-in period before penalties are levied for bylaw infractions — plus direction to staff to work with local pesticide vendors “towards voluntarily ceasing the sale of non-excluded pesticides in the city of Coquitlam.”

Warriner said the committee reviewed many documents on the topic, heard from a delegation from the Canadian Cancer Society and received a 400-name petition from a group called the Coquitlam Pesticide Awareness Coalition as well as several letters from the public before making its recommendation.

A call to the advisory committee’s chair, Coun. Linda Reimer, was not returned Thursday but Coun. Brent Asmundson, chair of Coquitlam’s engineering committee, said he plans to support the advisory group’s recommendation and move it on to council for consideration.

Still, Asmundson said he would prefer the federal government take action on product safety “rather than having some patchwork of regulations. We’re stepping into an area that’s not our responsibility.”

Meanwhile, B.C. Premier Christy Clark said last month she supports a provincial ban on cosmetic pesticide use. NDP Leader Adrian Dix tabled Bill M 203, Cosmetic Pesticide and Carcinogen Control Act, 2011, on May 5, which is expected to be debated in the next session of the provincial legislature.

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