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UPDATE: City committee doesn’t think Regina needs to ban pesticides

You don’t have to stop
using pesticides to tackle weeds in your lawn.
 

A ban on “cosmetic”
pesticides has been rejected by the City of Regina’s Environmental Advisory Committee.
 

Five provinces and over
150 Canadian municipalities have implemented bans or bylaws on what they’re
deeming “non-essential” pesticides. These are defined as chemicals that promise
to rid your yard of weeds, insects or funguses for a non-health related
purpose.
 

On Monday, activist
groups pushing for the bylaw heard an early decision to not go ahead with it,
again. The Canadian Cancer Society has been pushing the argument for 12 years.
 

“I’m not sure what’s
taking so long in this province to move on this issue,” said Sanela Begic-Le,
Cancer Control Coordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS).
 

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The group along with the
Saskatchewan Environmental Society was supposed to meet with the advisory
committee at their regular meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue.
 

“So I’m a little
disappointed the decision was made before the Saskatchewan Environmental
Society had time to speak to their own paper,” said Begic-Le.
 

She was also looking
forward to discussing the benefits of a pesticide-free city.
 

The CCS says although
there isn’t direct proof pesticides cause cancer, the evidence linking the two
is growing.
 

“Especially childhood
cancers and also pet cancers,” she said. “Kids crawl on our lawns. They put
their fingers in their mouths. We need to do something to protect the kids in
this province.”
 

The Advisory Committee
said in their recommendation report that businesses and citizens should be free
to make their own decisions regarding their property. They did recommend the
city try to cut down its pesticide use as much as possible.
 

Landscape associations
across the country have been fighting the pesticide ban movement.
 

Nigel Bowles, Manager of
the Saskatchewan Nursery Landscape Association, says there’s no link between
cancers and pesticides, and all products available have been labeled “safe for
use” by Health Canada.
 

“We have 350 scientists
at the Pest Management Regulatroy Agency whose sole job is to ensure human and
environment safety. That’s their job,” said Bowles.
 

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He says the movement is
politically motivated and only hurts lawn service companies, lowers property
values and community standards.
 

“They don’t look as
nice,” he said. “Weeds are invasive. They will take over if they’re not
controlled.”
 

He also says pesticide
bans are difficult to enforce. The city doesn’t have the authority to ban the
sale of pesticides, only the use. So residents would only be fined if a bylaw
officer witnessed them using the product on their lawn, and even then the
officer might have to obtain a warrant to get onto the citizen’s property.
 

Dutch Grower’s Home
& Garden Owner, Tim VanDuyvendyk says more and more of his customers are
asking for alternatives anyways. He stocks a range of products available that
are pesticide-free and eco friendly. But, because they’re organic, they break
down in sunlight and in water.
 

“There’s definitely  more alternatives out there that you can use,
but you have to be a lot more diligent in using them and apply them more often,”
said VanDuyvendyk.
 

As a retailer he tries
to educate his customers, but says it takes time to get the word out.
Otherwise, banning pesticides will result in various city-wide horticulture
problems.
 

“I think if a
municipality or a government wants to instigate a pesticide ban there should be
a five to 10 year period of education first,” he said.
 

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But that’s time the
Cancer Society doesn’t want to gamble with.
 

“Who’s going to be
suffering? Our own people,” said Begic-Le. “I’m afraid to see our cancer stats
in 20 or 30 years when people start getting diagnosed with these illnesses.
That’s when we’ll pay the price.”
 

She says her society
along with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society will be still attending the
city’s Environmental Advisory Committee meeting on Thursday to try and drive
home this information.