Organic Consumers Association

Montreal and Other Canadian Cities Moving To Ban Pesticides

Pesticide ban acceptance 'takes years'; Quebec woman's city outlawed the
chemicals a decade ago

The Guelph Mercury
January 27,

City officials considering a partial ban on pesticides shouldn't be
surprised if it takes years to win over some members of the community, a
Quebec woman with some experience on the subject said Sunday.

Maureen Lafreniere, a municipal employee with the City of Westmount, was
in Guelph on the weekend to attend the 22nd annual Organic Agriculture

Lafreniere spoke to the Mercury about her city's experience in
implementing a sweeping pesticide ban in 1994. "It takes years to change
people's attitudes," Lafreniere said. "It won't happen in a year."

Guelph's pesticide review committee has made several recommendations,
including the elimination of pesticides on public and private property;
a permit system to allow pesticide applications for severe insect
problems; and a major campaign to promote alternatives to pesticides.

The recommendations will likely go before the planning, environment and
transportation committee in late February and could go to council in
March or April.

Westmount, which was recently amalgamated into the City of Montreal,
adopted a policy against the use of pesticides on public lands in 1990.
Then, four years later, Westmount passed a bylaw prohibiting use of
pesticides, with a few exceptions, on private property.

Lafreniere said council at the time was able to demonstrate that private
property could be managed without pesticides, and had a four-year proven
track record of doing just that with the city's parks.

"It was a strong position from which to bring in the bylaw," she said,
although public education programmes also helped ease the transition.

Lafreniere is currently Westmount's community events co-ordinator, but
at the time the pesticide ban was introduced she was the city's
environmental co-ordinator. In that role she found herself reminding
residents that people were involved in agriculture without pesticides
for thousands of years.

She said after pesticides were eliminated from use on public lands the
city received several calls from residents complaining about weeds in
the parks. Today those calls are a thing of the past, and residents
applying for permits to spray serious infestations are fading with them.

"There's an attitude change," she said. "People would rather have a few
weeds and be able to let their kids roll in the grass without worrying
about it.

"It's a quality of life issue," Lafreniere continued. "I love that I can
eat lunch in the park and not give it a second thought."

At the Organic Agriculture Conference held this weekend at the
University of Guelph, Lafreniere would have had no trouble convincing
people about the advantages of being pesticide-free.

"I think (a ban) is a great idea," said Ross Elliott, who was visiting
from the Ottawa area, where council is considering a similar action.

Elliott said opposition to banning pesticides is largely driven by

"A lot of people don't know there are alternatives," he said. "For many
people it's the only thing they understand. Unless you can teach them
about alternatives they will rebel against a ban."

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