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BEPPLE: The politics of pesticides

Image Credit: Compilation/Jennifer Stahn
June 12, 2015 - 7:38 AM

Soon, Kamloops could have a bylaw banning pesticides outright on lawns and flowers, but allow use on vegetable gardens and fruit trees. Or not. It is still up in the air whether the bylaw will pass or not.

Last week, city council debated Coun. Tina Lange’s motion to ban outright the application of pesticides on lawns, flowers and non-fruit trees, whether by licensed applicators or home owners. Currently in Kamloops, pesticides can only be applied to lawns and flowers by a licensed applicator. If the bylaw passed, no pesticides could be used, except on vegetable gardens and fruit trees.

Sensing this is a contentious issue, Coun. Arjun Singh made a tabling motion until further input from the public could be received. The decision on a pesticide ban has been postponed until at least July.

Now councillors will receive information supporting or opposing the ban. Supporting the ban are environmentalists and people who fear the health effects of pesticides. Opposing the ban are homeowners who want their yards to appear a certain way or want to minimize work, and those who believe the pesticides are safe to use when applied according to specifications.

Both the people who support the ban and the people who want things to remain the way they are now contacting city councillors and sharing their views.

I’m sure by the time the decision goes to council, hundreds if not thousands of emails, phone calls and letters will be received by council.

At the end of the day, after weighing all of the input, the decision will be more about politics than it is about science. No matter who says the decision to ban pesticides or not will be made (or should be made) on science, it will be a political decision through and through.

On the one side are councillors Lange, Donovan Cavers, Dieter Dudy and Denis Walsh. All have supported environmental issues in the past, with Cavers also having run for the Green Party and Dudy operating an organic farm as well. They may be swayed to leave things as they are, but they all have supported environmental issues in the past.

On the other side are Mayor Peter Milobar and councillors Ken Christian, Marg Spina and Pat Wallace who have all traditionally been more cautious to make changes, and are seen by some on the pro-pesticide ban side as being supportive of the status quo. The current bylaw is a compromise between what those wanting no restrictions on use and those wanting a ban.

These four council members are likely to be least likely to want to change how things are.
In the middle is Coun. Singh. It’s not clear at this point which way he is leaning. There are people on either side of the debate who have compelling arguments.

My experience is that science cannot win the day. In the end, people vote based on their own values and the values of the broader community. In the end, the bylaw will pass if the majority of council believes it serves the good and will of the community.

It will be a close vote, I’m sure.

— Nancy Bepple is a recovering politician and local news junkie. She expects she will never recover from her love of the banjo.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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