The News (Maple Ridge, B.C., Canada), January 14, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: In British Columbia, citizens gear up to ban cosmetic uses of pesticides on lawns. "We're not asking for the sale of pesticides to be banned. We're asking for the restrictions on use, just like tobacco." -- Maria Raynolds]

By Phil Melnychuk

Maria Raynolds expects Maple Ridge politicians to keep their promises -- such as the one made in mid-campaign during last fall's municipal election.

Asked at an all-candidate's meeting in Whonnock if they'd support a ban on cosmetic pesticides, all 20 or so would-be politicians stood up to say they would. Now, seven of those are elected and Raynolds is expecting to see such a ban within a year.

"I don't see any problem there. I'm pretty sure they will," she said. The district is already working with her group to that end, she said. Raynolds, with the Campaign for Pesticide Reduction, made her latest pitch Tuesday to the new council, thanking it for a donation of more than $3,000 last year used for educational purposes.

She also handed council a petition, signed by 54 doctors, supporting a ban. "You Mr. Mayor, [Gordy Robson], are working hard to get drugs off our streets. Let's go one step farther and take our lawns off drugs, too," Raynolds said.

"Let's make the streets safe for our seniors to walk on and let us make our lawns safe for our kids to play on." Raynolds said after three years of education, helped by the district, it's now time to launch a full-scale education program backed up by a bylaw banning the use of herbicides, insecticides and fungicides for domestic use.

"Seeing how long it takes to consider this, I think now is the time to do the next step," she said Wednesday.

Raynolds and her group is asking for $6,700 from the district in 2006 to help with producing pamphlets, website design, staffing a hotline for two hours a week and for speakers' fees and advertising. Last year, the district gave more than $3,000 for educational brochures and to set up a website.

In addition to a ban, the group also wants the district to make it mandatory for developers to provide up to 20 centimetres of top soil on the front yards of new homes. That will ensure healthy lawns and reduce the need for watering.

"This truly is SMART GROWTH on the Ground, Al [Coun. Al Hogarth]!" she told council.

Raynolds said later that banning cosmetic use of pesticides in the suburbs wouldn't affect farming or apply to essential measures such as spraying for West Nile virus.

If council approved such a bylaw, Maple Ridge would follow Port Moody, Vancouver, New Westminster and North Vancouver. Maple Ridge has already stopped spraying pesticides on parks, playgrounds and school yards.

Raynolds cited one bylaw from Gibsons in which anyone wishing to use pesticide must first fill out an application and pay a $50 fee. If spraying within two metres of a property line, neighbours have to be notified in writing, signs have to be posted and at the year end a written report provided explaining the application of the pesticides.

But Raynolds favours just a straightforward ban on their use for cosmetic purposes.

"We're not asking for the sale of pesticides to be banned. We're asking for the restrictions on use, just like tobacco."

According to information provided by the group, a McGill university study showed that pre-natal exposure to home and garden pesticides increased the incidence of childhood leukemia.

Raynolds said that federal Green party and New Democratic candidates have said they'll write a letter supporting a ban.

According to CPR, the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment favours a ban on cosmetic pesticides. Studies link pesticide exposure to the development of Parkinson's disease. CPR also cites a 2003 Mustel Group poll of 500 people commissioned by the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation.

That poll said 80 per cent of Greater Vancouver Regional District residents favoured local bylaws that would restrict cosmetic pesticide use.

Copyright 2005 Maple Ridge News