KAMLOOPS – The decision by Kamloops councillors to approve a ban on pesticides in the city next year was a "foregone conclusion," one councillor says.
The issue was all but decided because seven of nine councillors already debated the concept before elections last November, Coun. Donovan Cavers says.
“I thought it was a foregone conclusion,” he says, adding he knew or suspected the yes side had the numbers on council in May.
Councillors put it off to July and passed the ban for 'cosmetic' pesticide use by residents and licensed applicators beginning Jan. 1, 2016.
Critics have denounced a lack of input on the subject, saying a formal public hearing, while not required by the Local Government Act, would have helped councillors understand all sides of the question.
But Cavers, an organic caterer, says his mind was made up, even before several public delegations to council purporting to bring local information about economic and other impacts. He says he wanted the vote sewn up in June to avoid dragging it out for local businesses.
“It is the prerogative of councillors do their own research… I have confidence that they do,” he says, adding there is an endless amount of information available on the topic of pesticides.
But not all councillors feel the same way, at least those who returned phone calls. Councillors Dieter Dudy and Tina Lange have not returned calls on the subject of public input for the pesticide decision. Councillors Cavers, Dudy, Lange, Arjun Singh and Denis Walsh voted for the ban.
Many councillors cite the four delegations that appeared in council as part of a balanced debate on the topic. Two presentations, including local businesses and a university professor, urged councillors to vote against. A physician and local master gardeners presented as well, but they lobbied for council to vote for the ban.
Singh says voting yes to a ban on cosmetic pesticides attracted an equal amount of emails both supporting and condemning his decision.
Council was also criticized for not informing specific businesses and residents about the move. Singh says the public was informed about the proposal to ban by news media coverage. He says he’s not sure open discussion with residents would have changed anything.
“I don’t know how anyone could miss it,” Singh says. “Given the controversy around (the debate), (a public forum) could have ended in a shouting match.”
“People were quite firm and entrenched in their view points,” he says.
All were lobbied on both sides of the debate with phone calls and email.
“It was hard to walk downtown or go shopping without someone approaching me about the pesticide motion,” Walsh says.
Having cleared themselves of the issues of public input, Walsh feels his vote was justified.
“The old bylaw wasn’t effective… (fewer) people will be using pesticides because the bylaw is much clearer now.”
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