Earth Action launches "Operation Pesticide Watch"
Group plans to create an online handbook in plain language for farmers and residents
A Prince Edward Island environmental group is hoping more Islanders will keep an eye out for pesticide violations.
Earth Action launched a campaign Wednesday called "Operation Pesticide Watch."
Sharon Labchuk from the group says she's taken many calls over the years from people looking for information about provincial pesticide laws. She says many residents didn’t realize there are pesticide police and there is a number to call.
The group plans to create an online handbook explaining things like the maximum wind speed for spraying pesticides, buffer zones and crop rotation regulations.
The group says their ultimate goal long term is an organic island. In the shorter term they want to raise enough awareness so residents understand they do have rights, and that these rights should be translated into more effective regulations to protect human health and the environment.
Lynne Lund from Clinton says she called the province when she felt pesticides were being sprayed too close to her property. An officer from the environment department came out and investigated but the farmer wasn't breaking any rules.
“I spoke to the farmer and I was lucky enough to work something out where he did give me notification in advance before he sprayed,” Lund says. “So I at least had the option of bringing my children in, which is really a small consolation but it's something.”
Lund says that led her to become more involved in the issue.
“I've reached out to my MLA, I've written letters, I've been involved with anything I could find to be involved with and this feels like a fantastic idea.”
Wade MacKinnon with the department of the environment says there are two seasonal full time pesticide officers who handle complaints. They're backed up by six conservation officers.
In the first eight months of 2014 seven charges have been laid under the pesticide control act, all the result of public complaints.
MacKinnon says the department is getting more calls these days and welcomes the idea of a handbook and better educated residents.
“I'd hate to see it result in stretching our staff even further,” he says. “But again we're impelled to respond and we will and if we have to prioritize on pesticide enforcement, then we will.”