By Annalee Grant
Cranbrook Townsman staff
A legislative committee chaired by Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett advised there is no need for a ban on pesticides on May 17, and the reaction was swift from both sides of the argument.
The committee’s report does not legislate any changes to current cosmetic pesticide legislation, but has recommended to the legislature that no such province-wide ban is required.
The Canadian Cancer Society is vehemently against the use of cosmetic pesticides and has vowed to keep urging municipalities and provinces to ban their use.
“The Canadian Cancer Society is very disappointed with the report,” said Patti Moore, team leader of health promotion for the society.
Wildsight joined the Canadian Cancer Society in expressing its concern over the report’s findings.
“Wildsight supports the stance of the Canadian Cancer Society,” said Robyn Duncan, Wildsight’s Pesticide Reduction program manager. “We’ve reviewed the science on pesticides – both epidemiological and toxicological studies – and remain firmly in support of a ban on cosmetic pesticides in B.C.”
Moore also criticized the report, saying it was weak in content and doesn’t go far enough to protect B.C. residents.
But Cranbrook resident Paul Visentin, who is happy with the committee findings, said the report provides a great resource for municipalities.
“The various municipalities across B.C. should reconsider their politicized pesticide bans now that it’s clear; pesticide bans are not needed, public education is the key not government intervention,” he said.
In the past, Premier Christy Clark has promised to get rid of pesticides, but with the report recommendation Moore now wonders if she will keep it.
“Both the premier and the health minister have supported banning pesticides in the past,” she said. “That’s the big question – what happens now?”
The report said 350 scientists at Health Canada say a ban is not necessary. Visentin believes this was the right decision based on science, not politics.
“This committee has decided to follow the science on this issue and not follow the fear and emotion that is so often used,” Visentin said.
Moore refutes that evidence, and says the Canadian Cancer Society is just one of many organizations that have offered scientific evidence to the contrary. “We know enough that we can be prudent,” Moore said. “No one should have to worry about children playing in the grass.”
The recommendation comes as many municipalities continue to push through their own municipal bylaws banning cosmetic pesticide use. In the Kootenays alone, five communities, including Fernie, have outlawed the use of cosmetic pesticides, and Moore said the Regional District of East Kootenay offered its support for the cause last year.
“It’s certainly an issue that engages many people to get involved,” she said.
Wildsight too will continue to work against the use of cosmetic pesticides. Duncan said the group is dedicated to finding alternatives for the urban environment.
“Wildsight is working to find healthy, pesticide-free alternatives for people to use instead of pesticides,” she said. “Healthy ecosystems are the foundation of healthy human communities.”