The Canadian Cancer Society expected disappointment after a B.C. legislative committee report called for weak restrictions on cosmetic pesticides.
“If these recommendations become law, they will not protect all British Columbian children from being exposed to unnecessary chemicals and possible carcinogens,” Canadian Cancer Society CEO, Barbara Kaminsky said.
Earlier this year, top health organizations including the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the Public Health Association of B.C. called for strong legislation to ban all sales of cosmetic pesticides within B.C., similar to the laws passed in Quebec and Ontario a number of years ago.
In northwest B.C. the use of cosmetic pesticides is also facing some tough opposition.
However, in the absence of regional or municipal bylaws prohibiting the use of cosmetic pesticides, Smithers residents are unprotected against harmful toxins in pesticides.
“We don’t have a bylaw on pesticide use and we don’t use pesticides in any of our works and operations as a municipality,” Susan Bassett from the Town of Smithers said.
According to a survey conducted by the Canadian Cancer Society in 2010 more than 70 per cent of British Columbians support provincial legislation to restrict pesticide use.
In B.C., 35 municipalities have adopted bylaws restricting the use of cosmetic pesticides and in 2009 the Union of BC municipalities voted in favour of a provincial-wide ban on all sales of cosmetic pesticides.
Still, Bassett admitted if someone did have a complaint about the residential use of cosmetic pesticides they have no recourse because there are no provisions in place for them to file a grievance.
Nonetheless, the issue is on the minds of many and Mayor Taylor Bachrach hopes to eventually look at those concerns in council.
“If there are ways we can make our environment healthier by eliminating toxins, we should look at that as a community.”
Councillor Phil Brienesse knows firsthand the nauseating effects of pesticides, posting on his Facebook page the pesticides used by his neighbour are strong enough to cause headaches.
But, before he can bring it up in council, Brienesse said he wants to hear more from residents.
“I’d have to hear more from the residents if that is of great importance for them at this time or not,” Brienesse said.
“It’s certainly an issue of concern to me and particularly when you have an organization at large like the Canadian Cancer Society pointing out the links between cancers and pesticide use.”
Despite the decision from the legislative committee the Canadian Cancer Society is still working tirelessly to promote the ban of cosmetic pesticides both at the local and provincial levels.
“In the past the CCS has advocated to municipalities to adopt cosmetic pesticide bylaws, which would prohibit the use of cosmetic pesticides on public lands and private lands,” Kathryn Seely, Director of Public Issues for the Canadian Cancer Society-BC and Yukon said.
“We still support municipalities to do so, but it’s largely self policing. The bylaws work, but it would be much more effective
if we had province-wide legislation because only the province can prohibit the sale of cosmetic pesticides.”