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LETTER: Citizen group asks council to eliminate cosmetic pesticides in Castlegar's public spaces

On February 5, a longer version of the following letter went to Castlegar Council, signed by 15 area residents. We are hoping that Council will deliberate on this before finalizing the budget in April.

Please redouble efforts to make Castlegar’s public spaces cosmetic-pesticide free, by increasing the maintenance of our lawns by organic and more labour-intensive methods. 

Stopping the use of these poisons is for the health of everyone’s children and grandchildren, for our local economy, for long term savings of taxpayer dollars, for the bees upon which we all depend for pollinating our food sources, and for our part in Greenhouse Gas reduction (many synthetic pesticides and fertilizers being petrochemical-based, not to mention the energy consumption involved in their production and transportation).

As noted in the city’s December 2013 update and motion on pesticide use, our OCP commits to “Research alternatives and work towards eliminating the use of pesticides in Municipal parks and open space maintenance operations

SAVING TAX DOLLARS IN THE LONG RUN

To quote a rigorous report prepared for members of the New York State legislature in 2010, which -- thanks to the Canadian Cancer Society -- we found via the reputable “Beyond pesticides” webpage,  http://www.beyondpesticides.org/dailynewsblog/?p=3318 , “the annual cost of maintaining a field using natural products and techniques can be as much as 25% lower than the cost of conventional programs using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.”

1.Saving on watering

a)Overwatering is one of the causes of weeds, thatch, fungi etc on lawns.   See https://homeguides.sfgate.com/signs-grass-overwatered-55560.html

2. Withdrawing from the increasingly expensive addiction, due to the  lawns’ dependence on the purchase of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.

CONTRIBUTING TO OUR LOCAL ECONOMY:  paying more local workers instead of for the profits of chemical corporations, and adding to the branding of Castlegar as a healthy place to live, work and play.

While our Public Works department has been doing a certain amount of aerating, top-dressing with compost, etc, the initial cost of hiring more labour has held us back from doing more.   We suggest that it’s time to take the plunge and hire more labour, for longterm savings. E.g. per this City of Toronto’s Calendar of Natural Lawn and Garden Care  https://bit.ly/2t5xty2

 “It can take a few seasons to undo the damage caused by chemical management programs, revitalize the soil biology and let nature do its work,” says the Beyond Pesticides report’s principal author, Charles Osborne, a nationally-recognized natural turf expert and Beyond Pesticides board member who serves as a consultant to many New York school districts. “But once we get the soil biology working for us, we can see some dramatic and significant cost reductions fairly quickly.”

Vancouver, Port Moody, Burnaby, Ottawa and Halifax have found pesticide-free care to be cost effective.

For further information on alternative treatments, and the motion they adopted after our Citizens for a Pesticide-free Castlegar and Area petition with over 1,000 signatures, see our “Citizens for a Pesticide free Castlegar and Area” Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/520978651273161/files/

Signed:

Antoinette Halberstadt, Elise Bourgeois, Greg Powell, Melissa Cline, Mark Bosse, Joan Alexander, Sheena Witter, Darrel Ross, Leanne Reitan, Angela Jakobs, Chris Cowan, Matthew Pierce, Edena Brown, Penny Goupil, Nadine Podmoroff