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Canadian Public Flocks to Pesticide Hearings
(from November 20, 2002)

A motion to ban non-essential cosmetic use of pesticides in urban areas will be introduced in Ottawa, at Thursday's city health committee meeting. So many people want to address Thursday's city health committee meeting on pesticides that councilors are being asked to extend the session into a second day.

The unusual request by the city clerk's office comes after the release yesterday of a long-awaited staff report on private property pesticide use. Anti-pesticide proponents Ms. Arnold and Councilor Alex Cullen were furious at, what they felt, were the inadequate recommendations of the report. It called for a $400,000 campaign to encourage residents to voluntarily reduce cosmetic pesticide use on private property over the next three years.

However, the two councilors will respond Thursday with their own motion to ban non-essential cosmetic use of pesticides in urban areas. That motion would include exceptions for agriculture, forestry and public health where necessary. The councilors' proposal would create an education program for 2003 and bylaw enforcement by 2004.

"I'm really, really upset with the staff recommendation," said Ms. Arnold, who represents Somerset ward. "The report says health concerns can wait until 2006."

Mr. Cullen called it "a wimpy response to an important public health issue." Pesticides have been linked in some studies to cancers, Parkinson's disease, and endocrine disruption, the Bay ward councillor said. "People won't change behaviors unless there is a bylaw," Mr. Cullen said.

Among the recommendations of the report are:
¨ establishing a target for reduced pesticide use by the end of 2005;
¨ boosting a city advertising and demonstration campaign;
¨ working with retail staff in garden centres to show alternative methods of pest control;
¨ working with other governments and building owners in the city on pesticide use.

Dr. Robert Cushman, the city's medical officer of health, said the public is not ready for a pesticide ban but opinion is moving quickly toward such a move. He predicts a bylaw within three years.

Source: The Ottawa Citizen