Rebecca O'Brien - Letter to Editor re Halifax Insecticide Use

Letter to the Editor of the Calgary Herald published May 15, 2007 under Headline "Progressive"

In Thursday's Herald (May 10, 2007) my daughter and I were featured in an article "Coalition pushes herbicide ban." In that article, Simon Wilkins of the City of Calgary Parks Department said that in Halifax "insecticides are allowed to address pests that flourish in the more humid environment." 

Firstly, Halifax residents must apply for permits to use insecticides and only 600 permits (less than half a percent of households) were allowed last year.

Secondly, The Halifax Regional Municipality is moving towards eliminating permits altogether and restricting retail sales, as non-chemical alternatives are available and do work.

Thirdly, the largest insect problem in Halifax is chinch bugs that flourish in dry, low-water conditions. So the Halifax Regional Municipality is focusing education efforts on landscapes that minimize water needs and retain moisture - much like the City of Calgary's Water-Wise and Healthy Yards programs.

Wilkins also said that tools have to work. Pesticides generally don't work and this is well-documented in the agricultural and horticultural literature. Pesticides only provide temporary relief and sometimes even exacerbate pest problems over the long-term. What works is changing landscape conditions so that the plants are suitable and resistant and natural pest controls have a better chance of working.
The Halifax Regional Municipality has been doing this for about 17 years. They rarely use chemical insecticides or herbicides.

Calgary needs a pesticide bylaw to phase out private and public use of pesticides to protect our health and environment. Over 126 other Municipalities in Canada have gone pesticide-free. If they can do it, so can Calgary.

Rebecca O'Brien