Regina city council discusses possible ban of cosmetic pesticide use

“I do not use pesticides in my own garden, in clients’ gardens, or in community-based projects. Pesticides create more harm than good, and simply are not needed.”

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Ten delegations presented to city council Wednesday in support of a motion asking administration to explore regulation and a possible ban on cosmetic pesticide use in Regina.

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Among them was Paule Hjertaas, president and spokesperson of the Saskatchewan Network for Alternatives to Pesticides (SNAP).

Hjertaas founded SNAP after suffering what she called “severe” health issues related to pesticide exposure. It is this health condition that inspired her to become an advocate for alternatives to pesticides.

“Councillor Stadnichuk’s motion is striking in that it does not question the effects of pesticides on wildlife, pets, people and the environment. It states them as facts,” she said to council. “It also builds on Regina’s current commitment to environmental sustainability, health, and well-being through its to Official Community Plan.”

Presentations from other concerned residents showed a passion and drive to address the issue of unregulated pesticides in the Queen City. Council heard concerns about negative impacts watersheds, greenhouse gas emissions in the production of pesticides, and that instructions for pesticides are difficult to understand, potentially leading to overuse. Many offered help and expertise.

Phil Johnson is a certified organic master gardener, and accredited practitioner member of the Society for Organic Urban Landcare, a national organization. He offers professional gardening advice and assistance to private homeowners. He also advises and assists community groups with gardening and landcare projects.

“I do not use pesticides in my own garden, in clients’ gardens, or in community-based projects. Pesticides create more harm than good, and simply are not needed,” Johnson said during Wednesday’s meeting.

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The motion calls for a review of the research on how the elimination of cosmetic pesticides protects biodiversity, especially birds and pollinators like bees and butterflies. It also asks for a summary of the regulation and best practices in Canada to maintain green spaces and yards without non-essential pesticides and feedback from the public through community engagement on a ban.

Lastly, it asks that recommendations and implications of implementing such a ban, along with the funding need for public education and communications plan that includes information on safe alternatives and best practices for maintaining yards, gardens and parks.

“We have no control over what is used, how often it is used, what the concentration of it is and whether or not its near children, in our parks,” Coun. Cheryl Stadnichuk (Ward 1) said as she introduced the motion Wednesday.

She said the motion only commits to getting more information and asked her fellow councilors what harm there was in that.

But considering the broad scope of motion, Coun. Bob Hawkins (Ward 2) asked council to table it until administration could provide an estimate of the person-hours and cost to fulfill the motion. The motion will come back to council in three to four weeks time for further discussion and a vote.

Also at city council

Council also approved amendments to The Regina Water Bylaw to implement enhancements to the Lead Service Connection (LSC) Management Program approved by council in May 2021.

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This includes mandatory replacement of the private LSCs when the public side is replaced. In cases where replacement occurs due to an emergency break on the city’s side, property owners will have 60 days to replace the private side.

It also includes five- and 10-year payment plan options for residents who need financial accommodations and a clause that outlines the penalties for failure to pay.

Despite these changes to the LSC replacement program, residents have continued to criticize the city’s approach, calling for a shorter time frame to complete replacements and to consider cost-sharing replacements with residents.

Recommendations made through a review of the city’s Heritage Building Rehabilitation program were also unanimously approved by council Wednesday.

Among the changes are an increase in financial incentives to rehabilitate heritage properties, elimination of the Grade 1 and 2 classification system, and more.

jackerman@postmedia.com

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