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LETTER – Some ideas on how the City can stop the use of pesticides

Dear City Council and Staff,

I have followed with interest the latest flurry of media stories regarding pesticide use in Kamloops. I’m disappointed that, however she heard it, someone or some group have pasted an undeserved label on Bronwen.

Council took a lot of flack for their pesticide decision years ago. Unfortunately that’s part of the leadership job and goes with the willingness to take on the councillor role. It ain’t pretty. Too bad people aren’t as quick to assign credit. I can only imagine the bile and vitriol that some of you heard and I don’t defend that behavior. I commend you for sticking to your job through it all. Time to do it again.

We are gradually turning our City back to the way Nature intended, with the ecological strength that comes from biodiversity. Our forests used to be very diverse. Then govt. and industry planted monocultures everywhere and gave the pine beetle a feast. Look at our grasslands; are they dominated by one species? No. What about underwater (I’m a scuba diver)? The world is full of footage about the amazing diversity on our ocean floors. Diversity is what’s natural, what’s normal, what should be.

The notion of the perfect lawn was sold to us by the petrochemical (fertilizer) industry as some false notion of the nice suburban house with a white picket fence, 2.5 children and a car in every garage. It’s not biologically natural. Not at all.

People hate dandelions? Only because they’re part of the narrow North American view. Talk to my friend from Chile, where they are called a flower, not a weed, and are a critical part of their bee industry. Talk to a vegetarian who uses them in various foods (I’ve eaten them), or talk to a naturopath about medicinal properties. Have a look at this story as a starting point: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dandelion-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3

You’ve seen the examples of other cities that abandoned pesticides so there’s nothing for me to repeat, other than to say it can be done, and it should be done here.

I’ve heard more than one Council member say that Council sets policy but that they stay away from the day-to-day. Staff tell us day-to-day needs to include pesticides.

Ok, then let’s set this policy. Kamloops will reduce its pesticide use by 25% per year for the next 4 years (or better 33%/3 years) based on 2020 levels. The reduction period will include public education on the reduced risks to our community members as well as the benefits of biodiversity and, for that matter, ways to use various plants as food and medicine.

Our Parks staff love to produce amazing beds; challenge them to modify their work to show our citizens what pesticide-free gardening looks like, and set up a reward system based on public votes! The new policy will allow continued control of noxious and invasive weeds on an as-needed basis, as approved by the appropriate City committee.

Can that be our new policy?

As for our sports fields, since there is a concern about turf quality for tournaments, perhaps we can divert the now-unspent pesticide funds into a fund to convert a couple of our existing fields to artificial turf (but not too many, as we need plants to produce oxygen!). Obviously this is a more complex topic than I may realize but if we don’t put our minds to creative solutions, we’ll never get where we need to go.

By the way, I have watched Bronwen fight for issues about which she is passionate for much of the 30+ years I have lived in Kamloops. I cannot recall a single instance where anyone was able to fault her facts. People may have disliked her direct style, her unwillingness to give up when she knew she was right, but they couldn’t call her wrong on her facts. The disagreements were over opinions.

Thanks in advance for your consideration of this letter. I look forward to any discussions.

TOM RANKIN

About Mel Rothenburger (8419 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on LETTER – Some ideas on how the City can stop the use of pesticides

  1. There are many ways to manage a limited size private landscape/garden free of harmful pesticides if one has knowledge, expertise and the willingness to gets down to its hands and knees. It is a much different reality when the size of land under management grows exponentially. I am often caught criticizing the City on various issues but on this one I need to cut them some slack. The “ideas” brought forth in this LTTE have been visited and revisited plentifully and a judicious use of some pesticides pose no more risks than any other substances in common use not only by the City but by most individuals. And I do commend the ongoing watchful engagement of Ms. Bronwen on the issue. However a similar comment as the one scribed above would be my first reply to her too.

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