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Premier supports banning the use of cosmetic pesticides

Michelle Li and the Richmond Pesticide Awareness Coalition fought to have cosmetic pesticide use banned in Richmond. - Jennifer Gauthier photo
Michelle Li and the Richmond Pesticide Awareness Coalition fought to have cosmetic pesticide use banned in Richmond.
— image credit: Jennifer Gauthier photo

NDP leader Adrian Dix proposed legislation Thursday to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides across the province, then challenged Premier Christy Clark to take action on a bill she says she supports.

Clark was asked about the issue Wednesday, and replied that she has supported such a ban for years. She said she wants to work with the opposition and the public to work out the best way to further restrict the use of lawn and garden weed killers, a move that has already been made by several other provinces and numerous municipalities.

Clark stopped short of saying the B.C. Liberal government would support the NDP bill, which refers to pesticides that mainly target insects and are not generally considered cosmetic. Clark also repeatedly referred to cosmetic pesticides as the target of the proposed legislation.

Dix said the NDP introduced similar legislation on Earth Day last April, but the government took no action. Ontario and Quebec have already banned “cosmetic pesticides” and have seen broad compliance from the public, he said. The most common target of such bans is herbicides used to kill dandelions and other broad-leafed weeds.

Michelle Li, chair of the Richmond Pesticide Awareness Coalition, was encouraged by the news, though wondered why a committee needed to be formed.

“I am wondering why delay it any longer? We have already had a public consultation on the issue. Ontario already has legislation in place that we can base our legislation on, so I really don’t understand the purpose of another committee and delaying this any longer. There is support from so many organizations that it should be easy to implement,” she said.

Richmond banned the use of pesticides on residential property and most city property in 2009. The bylaw gives the city the power to fine homeowners up to $1,000 for using products like Roundup and Killex to maintain outdoor grass, trees, shrubs, flowers and other plants.

“We know the risks, we know that other cities and provinces have banned it, so there is no need to have yet another committee,” Li said.

“I hope that this is one issue that Christy Clark will really rally behind and show B.C. that she will take a stand where others haven’t—that she will make sure that not another person is exposed to unnecessary pesticide exposure for the purpose of a weed-free lawn or park.”

— with files from Bhreandáin Clugston

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