Exemptions in Charlottetown pesticide bylaw will remain

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee had to step in to break a tie in a council vote Monday night to remove exemptions from the city's cosmetic pesticide bylaw.

Bylaw seems to be working, says mayor

Chinch bugs are one of the main reasons for the exemptions. (CBC)

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee had to step in to break a tie in a council vote Monday night to remove exemptions from the city's cosmetic pesticide bylaw.

Lee voted to keep the exemptions on the books.

The bylaw has been in and out of council chambers for years, and the debate Monday went on at length.

"It was really no surprise tonight that we were going to have those in favour, and those against, I wasn't a bit surprised that it ended up being a tie vote." Lee said after the meeting. 

This debate focused on the exemption to use of banned substances in the case of an infestation. The debate started with Coun. Bob Doiron last summer, when he wanted to get rid of a $50 fee that was required for a city inspector to confirm the diagnosis of a professional lawn care company. 

Coun Mike Duffy, chair of the environment and sustainability committee, took the question back to committee and  came back with the motion to get rid of the exemptions all together. 

The debate Monday was at times heated.

Coun. Duffy accused fellow councillors of not taking the dangers of pesticides seriously. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"The problem with you people, especially you two over there [referring to Coun. Doiron and Coun. Greg Rivard]," said Coun. Mike Duffy, "is you don't believe pesticides are harmful."

Doiron and Rivard argued that the current bylaw seems to be working, with only 304 applications, for exemptions last year, and less spraying for weeds. 

After a four-four tie (councillors Melissa Hilton and Eddie Rice were not at the meeting) the mayor stepped in, voting the amendment down. He said the bylaw is only one year old, and it so far seems to be working.

"I received many positive comments. And I don't think we can just keep changing bylaws on a whim, for the sake of changing bylaws," he said 

"There has to be a logical explanation, and quite frankly throughout this whole discussion I never heard anything that quite honestly made enough sense to me to say, yeah let's change the rules."

Mayor Lee cited several reasons for voting down the motion. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

Lee also pointed out the importance of keeping the bylaw the same as Stratford and Cornwall, something the three communities set out to do from the beginning. He added he felt it unfair to the lawn care industry, because companies would already have ordered supplies for the upcoming season. 

But that wasn't good enough for those who continue to fight against pesticides, like Roger Gordon who was at the meeting.

Pesticide activist Roger Gordon says he is disappointed in council. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

"I'm very disappointed at the short sightedness of certain councillors on the city council," he said 

"It's this mindset that in order to have a nice lawn, you spray it with a product. You don't do that: you use your hands, you work the soil with your hands."


Natalia Goodwin

Video Journalist

Natalia is a multi-platform journalist in Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.