Charlottetown mayor calls for ban on cosmetic pesticides in city

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on September 8, 2014

Charlottetown city councillor Rob Lantz, shows council Monday the list f names supporting the change of the name of University Avenue between Grafton and Euston Streets back its original Great George Street. Lantz was speaking during the regulart meeeting of council. At right is Coun. Jason Coady.

©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says cosmetic pesticides need to be banned in the capital city.

City council passed a resolution at its regular public monthly meeting Monday, asking that the provincial government amend the Charlottetown Area Municipalities Act to enable the city to regulate cosmetic pesticides.

"My position is cosmetic pesticides need to be banned within the city,'' Lee said following the meeting. "If I'm re-elected, regardless of whatever approach we need to take to effectively do that, we'll do.''

In one other significant move at Monday's meeting, Coun. Rob Lantz, chairman of the planning committee, said his committee is going to be looking very soon at the possibility of changing the name of University Avenue, from Euston Street to Province House, back to Great George Street. That's what that particular section of street used to be called.

In terms of the pesticide issue, right now municipalities like Charlottetown have no control over the use of pesticides. It's something that has to be dealt with at the provincial level and until the provincial government makes changes in legislation it will stay that way.

The Town of Stratford, for example, recently launched an education campaign on alternatives to cosmetic pesticides and stated that it doesn't use chemicals on its properties.

Coun. Rob Lantz, chairman of the planning committee that moved the resolution, said there is always confusion as to who has the power to regulate pesticides.

"People look to the city to make a decision, one way or the other,'' Lantz said. "Tonight we're not talking about judging the issue, we're simply asking the provincial government to make the decision if they so wish to regulate cosmetic pesticides.''

Rob Gallant, who owns Atlantic Graduate Pest Management in Charlottetown, said he isn't surprised to hear the topic is back on the agenda.

"It's an election year,'' Gallant said. "If they're so sincere about the environment, so sincere about the use of cosmetic pesticides then why do they start talking about it two months before an election?''

Gallant said cosmetic pesticides is a heavily regulated industry, with multiple environmental officers out there on a regular basis making sure companies like his are licensed, that the products are being applied properly, that the products are registered, that neighbours are notified before an application and that wind speeds and direction are taken into account before an application.

Gallant said the big risk in an outright ban is that it can create a black market where property owners do it themselves without training or have unlicensed companies taking care of it.

Former city councillor Philip Brown, who is running for mayor, has made a ban of cosmetic pesticides a big part of his campaign, too.

Lee said it should surprise no one that council has opted to go this route.

"I don't think this is an issue that should surprise anybody. Certainly, the citizens of Charlottetown I believe, are asking for this ban, they've been asking for it for quite some time.''

Lee acknowledged that the approach of asking the province to grant the city legislative powers on the issue has not worked in the past.

"Quite frankly, if I'm re-elected as mayor I will be encouraging the next council to come in with a ban of cosmetic pesticides within the boundaries of the city and we will regulate that.''

Lee said he isn't sure how enforcement would work if in fact the province does amend the municipalities act. The city would need the resources to regulate the products.

"I'm certainly not in favour of having a bylaw but not the resources to enforce that bylaw. We could probably have that discussion with the provincial government to see if they have resources available to the municipalities for that enforcement and, if not, then we'll have to look at other options.''

The next step is up to the provincial government but the legislature has to be sitting before any changes can be made.

"That may happen later this fall or it may happen in the spring. That's up to government. The time has come to move on this issue. Let's deal with it and get it done.''

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart