HRM Council Debates Cosmetic Lawn Pesticide Use
UPdate June 00

     It's summer. Garden time. And as the weather heats up, so does debate around cosmetic pesticide use. In Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), community pressure has resulted in a proposed set of by-laws which would phase in a total ban on cosmetic pesticides in HRM over a four year period. The proposal is a result of several years of debate and discussion, including a pesticide by-law committee appointed by Council and two evenings of public presentations in April-May. Now, the proposed by-laws, developed by city staff after the first round of presentations, have gone to public hearings.

      The HRM proposed by-laws would start in year 1 with a 100-meter "no pesticide" zone around schools, daycare centres and homes of people with medical conditions exacerbated by pesticides. In subsequent years, it would expand to include protected zones around drinking water wells and reach a total ban in year 4. Halifax is not alone in its concerns about the health risks of pesticides. More than thirty communities in Canada have already adopted some form of limitation on cosmetic pesticide use. Over fifty other Canadian communities are looking at taking similar action. 

      Meanwhile, in Ottawa, the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development issued its report "Making the Right Choice for the Protection of Health and the Environment" on May 16. The report looks at issues relating to cosmetic and agricultural pesticide use, as well as problems with pesticide regulation. In relation to cosmetic pesticides, the report states, "The committee firmly believes that a moratorium on pesticide use for esthetic purposes is necessary."

      On pages 4/5 of this edition of UPdate, we reprint the presentations to HRM, calling for a ban on cosmetic pesticides, from lawyer Dawna Ring, a member of the Pesticide By-law Committee; Dr. Rob Rutledge, oncologist at the QE II Medical Centre; and Dr. Robert Strang, Medical Officer of Health for NS Central Region.