Lantzville set to consider cosmetic pesticide ban

The District of Lantzville will mull a ban on pesticides to help protect its watershed and citizens' health

Lantzville will consider nipping the use of cosmetic pesticide in the bud this year to help protect its watershed.

The District of Lantzville will discuss a ban on the use of cosmetic pesticides this fall as a precautionary measure for residents’ health and protection of its watershed. The move against pesticides has already been taken by more than 40 municipalities across the province, including Nanaimo.

According to Andrew Mostad – the Lantzville councillor behind the push – the Canadian Cancer Society has made a good case about the potential health issues caused by cosmetic pesticides, including cancer. The agency has been pressing communities to adopt bans to educate people about the importance of using pesticides and protect against cancers. But Mostad also believes the ban could help protect the district’s water.

During a 2011 debate about a residential farm operation, people raised concerns composted manure could be contaminating nearby wells. The fears were unfounded, but they raised questions about the potential of other, more-likely contaminants like pesticides and herbicides breaking down into soils and washing in the watershed, Mostad said.

“Contaminated water is one of the main overarching themes in council over the [past] two years and I thought a pesticide bylaw would be a great step forward in protecting our watershed,” he said.

The first-time council member is advocating for Lantzville to roll out a ban that would prevent people from spraying pesticides for ornamental reasons. It would follow the same rules implemented by Nanaimo in 2010, which still allows residents to apply chemicals to control issues like carpenter ants and weeds growing through pavement cracks. People would have the potential to be fined for violations, but the bylaw would be used as more of an education tool to sway people toward a different approach to gardening, according to Mayor Jack de Jong.

It could also be used to press the provincial government to ban the sale of cosmetic pesticides, he said.

“The agricultural industry is probably the biggest user of pesticides and [lobbies the government]…so I think it’s important for a community like ours to balance that view and indicate we want to have these materials banned,” de Jong said.

The statement is supported by the Canadian Cancer Society, which continues to advocate for more municipalities to take a stance against cosmetic pesticides as a public safety measure. More than 100 studies have shown a link to cancers like child and adult leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, said Nancy Falconer, the agency’s health promotion coordinator for Vancouver Island.

“It’s really encouraging to hear the District of Lantzville is looking at this,” she said.

The District of Lantzville is expected to debate a potential bylaw in October after it wraps up its new Urban Agricultural Plan.