Over the last several weeks, my office has received a high volume of calls and emails regarding the potential ban of pesticides on public and private property. Earlier this week, Committee made a decision regarding this potential ban.
On August 22, 2022, Community and Public Services Committee voted not to proceed with any further work on a pesticide ban on public and private property.
I did not support the ban, and I voted not to proceed with any further work.
With respect to private property, I felt that a pesticide ban would be unenforceable. A bylaw to ban pesticides could only prohibit their use, and not the sale of pesticides. Private property owners would still have the ability to obtain pesticides, and the City would not practically be able to prevent their use.
Secondly, with respect to health concerns, I understand and appreciate that some may not want to see pesticides used, and are concerned that the use of pesticides will adversely affect personal health. I am sympathetic to those concerns. However, the City does not have the resources to properly test and determine what substances or chemicals are safe, and which are not. The City depends on other levels of government to make such determinations. I firmly believe that those with health concerns regarding the use of particular products should take those concerns to the level of government that actually evaluates and regulates their use.
Finally, I have considerable concern with the current effectiveness of City Administration regarding the care and maintenance of all City owned public spaces, and I know many of you share those concerns. Council did create a pesticide use policy several years ago, and Administration was directed to address the reduced use of pesticides and increase mechanical and hand labour efforts to compensate. That has not happened, and the condition of our public spaces has badly deteriorated. Administration has considerable work to do to get back on track, to engage with the public, and to create plans for the upcoming budget process. I did not think that adding further work towards a pesticide ban at the same time would be productive.
During the 2021 Election I heard feedback from many residents regarding the approach City Administration is taking towards naturalization. Consideration of naturalization is warranted. More naturalized spaces will assist in less runoff entering the drainage system, and will aid in the filtration of the water that does. A naturalized space is less expensive to maintain, and we must explore ways to reduce property taxes and spending.
I do believe there is a balanced middle ground that allows for a blend of naturalized spaces and more manicured spaces that allow for physical activity and other more active uses. But that must start with effective, transparent dialogue with property owners before any decisions are made.
I am trying to work with City Administration to undertake those conversations. However, as I previously noted, moving towards a pesticide ban on private and public property, without these and other consultation conversations, is not the answer.
As always, your feedback is welcomed regarding this matter or any other municipal concern. Please connect with my office by emailing [email protected] or calling my office at 780-496-8130. As always, I appreciate your feedback.
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