Banning Pesticides in Stratford

To ban or not to ban, that is the question.

Banning pesticides should make a whole lot of sense - they are harmful to the environment, pollute watercourses, poison critters and there have been plenty of studies that point out the harmful effects on health. After all, they don't put those signs warning people to stay off the grass for nothing.

Here in Stratford the debate has reared its head once again. After two committees set up to look at the issue (the first looking at pesticide use on public property and the second set-up to look at use on private property), council has set up yet another committee to educate citizens on pesticides.

With all these committees it's easy to think that council is simply trying to keep the activists busy talking about their outrage out of the public eye in hope that this will serve as some sort of therapy to calm their nerves. Well, it doesn't seem like it is working.

The reality is it is time for a ban on cosmetic pesticides in Stratford. There is no reason anyone needs to apply pesticides to keep their lawns green. There are easy and non-toxic ways and it’s called good old fashioned work – or, even better, replace that lawn with native plants that require less water and provide habitat for birds and butterflies.

But there's a problem with municipal bans - while you can ban both citizens and licensed operators from applying pesticides, the product can still be bought in local stores. And, as everyone knows, just because something is illegal doesn't mean people won't do it - especially when it's still sold legally in local shops.

And having citizens sneaking out late at night to spray their lawns with pesticides - especially being untrained in their application - doesn't remove the environmental and health concerns.

The reality is that upper levels of government to step in and apply a ban. However, much like smoking, it looks like it will have to be municipalities that drag them into the fray.

So in the meantime, before council asks the province and the federal government to get on the bandwagon, council should pass a ban for 2011“ their actions will go a lot further than their word.

And, instead of wasting everyone's time with another committee, it's time to actually commit some dollars in this year's budget to start educating citizens on the alternatives to pesticides.