Times Colonist (Victoria, B.C., Canada), October 25, 2005
VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA, TAKES AIM AT PESTICIDES
[Rachel's introduction: "Victoria, British Columbia is on track to become the first municipality in the region to ban use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes in gardens and parks... following the lead of at least 70 other municipalities in Canada with similar regulations...."]
By Malcolm Curtis
Victoria is on track to become the first municipality in the region to ban use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes in gardens and parks.
Regulations, based on a model bylaw approved by the Capital Regional District [CRD], would ban "non-essential" use of chemicals used to destroy pests on all land in the city, public and private.
"I think the time is right," said Denise Savoie who, as chairwoman of the CRD's environment round table, has been promoting the new rules. "It's not an extreme kind of bylaw, it really deals with cosmetic non- essential use of pesticides."
Victoria council approved regulations in principle last week subject to a report from staff on the possible impact on municipal operations.
The city already limits pesticide use. But those policies didn't prevent city crews last year from using such chemicals as Trillion to kill weeds on playing fields. Exposure to Trillion can cause skin irritation, and studies -- which are in dispute -- have raised concerns about reproductive problems.
At CRD open houses last year, some owners of landscaping businesses worried about banning pesticides. They argued that customers want weed-free gardens.
But Savoie said the regulations follow "the precautionary principle" at a time when links between pesticides and health risks are well established. The bylaw requires of residents just a "slightly higher tolerance for weeds in your otherwise perfect lawn," she said. The municipality, she said, would embark on a program to advise residents of non-chemical alternatives to pesticides.
Organic gardeners often mention mulching, landscape fabrics, hand weeding, and hoeing as ways to keep weeds in check.
Regulations would not affect chemicals used to combat pests that could hurt public health, commercial food production or public safety. Exceptions include use of pesticides in an aerosol can.
The City of Victoria would be following the lead of at least 70 other municipalities with similar regulations, including the City of Vancouver. Saanich is also looking at the CRD model bylaw.
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that municipalities have the right to restrict use of pesticides.
"In the long run it's probably a good thing," said Nathan Millin, assistant manager at the Garden Works store on Oak Bay Avenue. Millin said acceptance of gardening without pesticides is growing, particularly among younger customers.
Copyright Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005