The City of Pitt Meadows has crafted a bylaw that bans the use of cosmetic pesticides, after years of lobbying by groups urging the municipality to encourage safer alternatives.
Slated to come into effect in March 2012, the bylaw will prohibit the use of non-essential pesticides to maintain trees, shrubs, flowers, ornamental plants and turf on city-owned and private property.
The bylaw will include a list of “permitted pesticides” that are exempt and mainly used to prevent human health risks or noxious pests.
The CEED Centre Society, which partnered with the District of Maple Ridge to educate residents about alternatives to pesticides after the municipality enacted a similar bylaw in December 2006, is glad Pitt Meadows is finally on board.
Executive director Christian Cowley would still prefer to see province-wide legislation.
“We want to make sure these dangerous chemicals, the purpose of which is to kill things, by definition, are not available and are not applied to the soil and water,” he said.
“The bylaw is part of a two-pronged approach to changing public behaviour. It can’t be considered in isolation. An education program is essential to make any movement.”
Besides hosting regular courses on organic gardening, residents can call the CEED Centre to find out about safer alternatives to kill weeds and bugs.
“Prevention is by far the root to take. A healthy garden does not require pesticides of any kind,” Cowley advises.
The bylaw will carry a minimum fine of $200 and be enforced by complaint. The city will also have an education campaign to advise residents about the upcoming changes.
“I think it’s great that we are finally putting this into effect,” said Coun. Deb Walters, after the proposed bylaw was introduced at a committee meeting Tuesday.
She has been using safer alternatives to pesticides since a pet dog got poisoned by slug bait.
Coun. John Becker wondered how city staff would catch offenders who buy banned products outside Pitt Meadows and quoted Greek philosopher Socrates: “What you cannot enforce, do not command.”
He added: “Hopefully the educational piece will be very successful.”
• Learn more about pesticide-free gardening here.