A team of diverse partners in the Kootenay region taking action to reduce the cosmetic use of pesticides has been recognized with a prestigious national award from the Canadian Cancer Society. The award, called the Circle of Distinction, recognizes team effort between Canadian Cancer Society volunteers and staff and their partners in contributing to the goals and mission of the society.
The local team, who together formed the Pesticide Free Columbia Basin network is comprised of Canadian Cancer Society volunteers and staff, local government stakeholders, physicians, community coalitions and partners including Wildsight, Prevent Cancer Now, and Kootenay Citizens for Alternatives Pesticides.
For the past five years, this team has effectively advanced the effort to create strong cosmetic pesticide legislation in BC. Last year, the network launched an educational website at www.pesticidefreecolumbiabasin.com to raise awareness about the potential risks of pesticides and healthier lawn and garden practices. In the region, five municipalities including the City of Fernie, District of Invermere, the City of Nelson, the City of Kimberley and the Town of Golden, have adopted by-laws restricting the use of cosmetic pesticides. More communities are considering taking action and this momentum has contributed to the groundswell of support for a provincial cosmetic pesticide ban. Recently, the Regional District of East Kootenay passed a motion in support of provincial legislation.
According to the Society’s Public Issues Manager Kathryn Seely, “The award recognizes the outstanding leadership, dedication and contribution demonstrated by the team. By working together in this unique way, the Kootenay network has assisted the Canadian Cancer Society greatly in carrying out its mission to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life for people living with cancer.”
In addition to the risks to human health, there are also environmental impacts from the cosmetic use of pesticides. “Reducing pesticide exposure is critical to prevent the unnecessary contamination of our air, water, fish, wildlife, and the many beneficial insects, like bees, that we depend upon,” says Wildsight Program Manager, Robyn Duncan. “It is a privilege to be part of this coalition and an honour to be recognized nationally for this work in the Columbia Basin.”
Cosmetic pesticides are used to control unwanted weeds and plants to improve the appearance of lawns and gardens. More than 30 B.C. municipalities have adopted bylaws to ban their cosmetic use and several provinces have bans in place.
The Canadian Cancer Society encourages concerned citizens to get involved by joining by contacting BC’s Environment Minister Terry Lake and by joining the Pesticide Free B.C. Facebook group. The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. For more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.