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Pesticide ban endorsed

Nine years ago, Port Moody became the first municipality in Western Canada to introduce legislation banning the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes.

While the ban has been imposed sporadically across the country, most Metro Vancouver municipalities have been slow to follow suit.

That may change with new Premier Christy Clark, who said recently that she supports a ban on the sale of chemicals to kill weeds and bugs. Clark said she was willing to work with the NDP and the public to fashion the legislation.

Langley Township has been sluggish on taking a position on garden chemicals, but Clark’s words appear to have made an impact on council.

Council voted to urge Clark and Langley’s MLAs Mary Polak and Rich Coleman to act swiftly to impose the ban.

The issue came up when council discussed Councillor Kim Richter’s motion asking staff to research the practice of other municipalities.

Councillor Jordan Bateman said that banning the use or sale of chemicals in Langley creates enforcement issues when residents could quite easily buy them in municipalities which do not have a ban.

Council agreed with Bateman that a letter should be sent to Clark asking for a province-wide ban, and he noted that Clark made the issue a platform when she campaigned for the leadership of the Liberal Party.

Any legislation would not be likely to extend to Langley’s vast farming community, which would be insulated from a ban because of right-to-farm legislation.

When the issue came before council in 2002, then-mayor Kurt Alberts said that the Township would work with the nursery industry “to come up with a good public education process. I think that is the direction for the future, moving towards less and less use of chemicals.”

“As we move in that direction we have to do a good job with respect to education and figure out how best to implement such a ban. We still have some work to do.”

In 2002, The Times quoted Dr. Philip Landragan, director of the Centre for Children’s Health and the Environment at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, saying that there are 85,000 chemicals registered for commercial use in the U.S., “and cancer remains the largest cause of death among children, and the overall incidence has steadily risen.”

Landragan pointed to a 25 per cent increase in childhood leukemia since 1960, and a 21 per cent rise in brain cancer.

He said: “While we have focused on treating cancer, we have not kept our eyes on the causes.”

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