To ban or not to ban

"It's a tool in a toolkit," says Joel Campbell of Green Velvet Tree and Lawn Care. 

Campbell spoke before Vernon City Council Monday on the topic of pesticides.

"As professionals, we use it as a tool. It is not our go-to always to use, we use a lot of aspects dealing with pest problems whether it be weeds or insects or disease."

Pesticides have been a heated topic before and will continue to be until council makes a decision on how they wish to handle the issue of cosmetic pesticides.

"We are here to try and reassure people that this industry isn't like it was in the past," said Campbell. "This industry is using science and a lot of knowledge to conduct its work."

Cambell used the argument that the science around pesticides is sound and federal regulations make it difficult for unsafe pesticides to make their way into the country. 

"We are not pushing to have unrestricted use of pesticides in our environment, it is just more of really opening your eyes to what is going on out there, and unfortunately we have a ton of introduced plants that aren't native to here, a ton of insects that have been brought in, and a ton of weeds that have been brought in, which mother nature doesn't have  a lot in place to deal with."

If a ban was put in place, Campbell argues that would mean unregulated use by non-professionals would go up.  

"Because the products are legally allowed to be sold, homeowners would still be able to buy the products and use them themselves."

He added,"now you are putting people, who we are currently servicing, in a situation where if they want to have a certain level of appearance to their property they are going to take it into their own hands with minimal knowledge and understanding of what they are doing. That is the concern. You are going to miss following the rules and regulations that we currently have to follow." 

Campbell offered up another solution. He suggested instead of an outright ban, council could create a ban that keeps the products of concern in the hands of professionals.

"The city could become involved with this and start doing its own inspections versus leaving it up to the province or the federal government. They can take matters into their own hands, and be able to manage it so that if there are any concerns they can quickly address it. They know all the companies around here that use pesticides, so it would make sense that they were involved and keep a close eye on what is happening out there."   

At the forefront of the discussion is Kelli Westgate from the Sustainable Environment Network Society. She was in attendance to hear Cambell speak. 

"I appreciate that pesticides are one of the tools in the tool-box for lawn care companies. Our issue is what is considered a pest, what is considered a weed for example."

Westgate says the proposed ban they are pushing for would be for all city-owned properties and parks and would not affect agricultural operations.

"When they say we use this particular pesticide on this 'weed' when 'necessary', those are the terms I really question. What do you consider a 'weed', what do you consider when 'necessary'?" 

Westgate and the Sustainable Environment Network Society are hoping that the city follows other municipalities like Kelowna, Salmon Arm, Revelstoke and the District of Coldstream.
SENS has been fighting for a ban for almost two decades

"What we are talking about is a cosmetic pesticide ban. It is me looking out into my yard and saying 'eww, I don't like those yellow spots.' When in reality there is no safety concern with dandelions, there is a safety concern with pesticides."

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