Rebuttal to Parks Department

“That Doesn’t Make Sense” - Rebuttal to The City Parks Department’s Statements on a Pesticide Bylaw

These are responses to statements made mostly in the media by Simon Wilkins, with the Integrated Pest Management Program of the City of Calgary’s Parks Department.

• The City says they use pesticides to protect the ecology. That doesn't make sense. It is well known that pesticides destroy ecosystems - killing soil, beneficial insects, killing wildlife and disrupting natural cycles.

• The City says they spray for public health and safety reasons. That doesn't make sense. All kinds of studies show the health risks, especially to children, of pesticides.  Also - at least 20,000 people in this City suffer from Chemical Sensitivities and are severely affected by the widespread pesticide use. Over 126 other municipalities have passed pesticide bylaws to protect the health of their citizens. Calgary is now the largest city in Canada without such a bylaw.

The Pesticide Bylaw we are suggesting would allow for preventing West Nile virus with chemical use of pesticides, if natural, biological controls don't work. The City has been using natural, biological controls successfully for a number of years.

• The City says that Parks are safe within 4 to 6  hours of being sprayed. We don't know how they can say that. Recent studies show that the Killex mix (2-4,D, dicamba and mecoprop) the City uses in Parks is "persuasively linked to cancers, neurological impairment and reproductive problems."  In Germany, on the rare occasions when pesticides are used in public places, they close the area to the public until the grass grows back and it's mowed once - usually a week or two.

• The City has said they need to spray dandelions to prevent lawsuits from people slipping on dandelions. There is no foundation for this. There is no recorded case of such a lawsuit in North America. And if Calgary does not act soon to put in a pesticide bylaw, the City could face lawsuits for its pesticide use from people whose health suffers from pesticides.

• The City says that a benefit of using pesticides is reduction of allergies from weeds. Yet many people react to pesticides, and pesticides can cause long-term health effects, including depleting immune systems so people are more prone to allergies. Other cities, such as Waterloo, Ontario use mowing and pulling to deal with allergy-causing weeds.   Calgary could too - this would be safer for everyone. Some cities have exceptions in their bylaws to allow chemical spraying of ragweed if natural controls do not work (e.g. Toronto).

• The City says they have significantly reduced pesticide use.  They may have reduced the intensity (the amount used over a certain area) and the concentration of pesticides, They have not reduced the overall amount of pesticides used. From what we can tell, there has been no significant decrease in overall use of pesticides.

• Another common argument made by the pesticide industry is that if used properly, pesticides are not harmful. Often the old adage “the dose makes the poison” is cited - that the doses used are low.  Yet studies done in the last few years show that low doses of pesticides can be more harmful than larger doses. Click here - see study 6. And serious deficiencies have been found in how the federal regulatory process for pesticides protects human health. Read more . . .