Spray ban closer

Coquitlam's engineering committee has approved a recommendation asking staff to look into potentially banning cosmetic pesticides in the municipality.

“Mazel tov. Was that so hard?”

That was the reaction from Coquitlam Coun. Selina Robinson, who saw her council colleagues this week unanimously support a recommendation for the city to draft an anti-pesticide bylaw.

Robinson, who has been pressing for such a ban since 2009, was one of nine council members at Monday’s engineering committee meeting to endorse a recommendation from the city’s environment advisory committee, a panel of experts that had been tasked by council this spring to look at whether the city should consider prohibiting use of cosmetic pesticides on private and public lands.

City council is expected to formally pass the engineering committee’s motion at its July 4 meeting.

Coun. Linda Reimer, the advisory committee chair, said the controversial subject was debated “without emotion or politics” and advisory volunteers also read volumes of information to formulate a recommendation that would satisfy all.

Their proposal calls for city staff to draft a pesticide use control bylaw that stops cosmetic pesticides from being used on “outdoor trees, shrubs, flowers, other ornamental plants, turf or hardscapes on private residential lands and public lands vested to the city of Coquitlam.”

It also calls for an education and outreach program — a component that Robinson said was the “strength” of the planned policy, noting the private sector is already on board and offering natural controls to kill weeds.

“We are not going to go to hell in a hand basket. We will have beautiful lawns,” she said.

But the proposal stops short of banning the sale of pesticides by Coquitlam retailers as it is outside the city’s jurisdiction, said Steffanie Warriner, environmental services manager.

The provincial government is considering banning pesticides from being sold, Reimer said. “The province needs to step up,” Mayor Richard Stewart said. “The province has the teeth and the guns and they can actually stop the use.”

B.C. Premier Christy Clark said last month she supports a provincial ban on cosmetic pesticides. 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 legislature session.

Still, Coquitlam councillors voiced their qualms about implementing such a ban in the city and commented on the difficulty of enforcement and the lack of a uniform bylaw for the Tri-Cities (Coquitlam’s policy is similar to Port Coquitlam and Richmond’s, Warriner said, and Port Moody is looking to update its anti-pesticide bylaw).

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