The City of Calgary is contemplating a new pesticide control bylaw but environmentalists predict it will fall short of protecting the public from potential health hazards.
Council voted Monday to direct staff to develop a pesticide control bylaw. But in an 8-7 vote, they rejected the idea of including a timeline for ending pesticide use in this city.
Ald. John Mar said he agreed with the need for a bylaw but said a total ban on pesticides raises too many questions for him.
"What about golf courses?" asked Mar. "What do people have the right to do on their own property? This is something that concerns me and concerned a lot of the other people that I've spoken with in council and administration and most importantly, how is this enforceable?"
Environmentalists say without a timeline for a ban on the use of lawn chemicals, the new law would be essentially toothless.
"Pesticides know no boundaries," said Robin McLeod of the Coalition for a Healthy Calgary. "It's not like a fence where you can contain your dog. It's in our water. We drink it. We have an epidemic of cancer rates … [and] nobody can tell you why.
"If we have an opportunity to reduce the non-essential use of toxins in our environment, it's a no-brainer."
Ald. Brian Pincott, who supports a pesticide ban, agreed that council choked.
"We now are looking at ... bringing forward a pesticide bylaw that doesn't have any real target behind it to eliminate these dangerous chemicals," he said.
Council will consider the actual wording of the proposed bylaw next month.
Weed control companies predict Monday’s decision won't result in any major changes in the way they do business.
They say chemicals are safe if used as instructed by the manufacturers.