The majority of Castlegar residents support eliminating the use of chemical pesticides in city parks and right-of-ways. City council needs to step up and overrule city staff and represent the citizens of Castlegar on this issue.
According to the city’s own surveys, residents have been calling for this as far back as 2006 (annual report): “The majority of respondents (71.8 per cent) favour eliminating the use of pesticides and herbicides in municipal parks.”
The 2011 draft OCP (official community plan) called for the elimination of pesticide use by the city, and was subsequently watered down to “research” the elimination in the final version of the OCP.
City council needs to ban all chemical pesticide use in parks. The notion that weeds pose a “slipping hazard” on sports fields in absurd. The carefully fertilized, watered and mowed sports fields in Castlegar naturally inhibit large scale weed infestations. Sports fields will not be overrun by thistle patches with the elimination of pesticides. There will be a few more dandelion heads and clover patches which are an eyesore to some, but not a safety hazard. I would be far more comfortable with the hazard of children tripping on weeds than the dangers of chemical pesticide exposure. The safety hazard argument is one supported by the pesticide industry to get around the cosmetic pesticide bans that are being enacted around North America (in much larger cities than ours).
The City of Castlegar continues to use the herbicide Trillion which contains 2,4-D (http://www.sierraclub.ca/national/programs/health-environment/pesticides/2-4-D-fact-sheet.shtml) There are many safe alternatives to using 2,4-D. Kids do not heed the re-entry warning signs and pets and wildlife are directly exposed. 2,4-D has been banned in several Canadian provinces for non-agricultural use, the city has no excuse for continuing to use it.
Having previously taken my concerns to city hall, I am convinced that city staff will continue to run pilot studies for eternity. Only a motion by City Council will see this done once and for all. The City of Castlegar has been waving the “Green” flag a lot lately, but when will City hall accomplish this very basic tenet of the green movement?