The Gomberg for Mayor platform plank on Pesticides
Pesticides are toxic chemicals, which are deliberately released into the environment. These chemicals are linked to a number of serious environmental problems and adverse human health effects including:
- Water contamination
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Brain tumours
- Childhood leukemia
- Damage to the central nervous system and immune system
- Eye and skin irritation
- Bird kills
- Fish kills
In 1998, the City of Toronto passed a motion, which phased out the use of pesticides on city owned land. Pesticide reductions in the first year of the program were over 95%. Despite the success of Toronto in reducing pesticides on its own property, little has been done to address pesticide use on residential and institutional properties. Last year, Environment Canada revealed excessive amounts of lawn care pesticides in both the Humber and Don Rivers. Because there are effective, economical alternatives to pesticides, municipalities in other provinces – Quebec, for example – have passed by-laws to ban lawn chemicals on private property. So far, the right of a municipality to pass a by-law, which protects the health of its residents, has been upheld by the Quebec provincial superior courts.
People are forced to remain indoors with closed windows when lawn care companies arrive in a neighbourhood with their chemical lawn “treatments”. The Ministry of the Environment recommends that items contaminated by pesticide drift – such as laundry hanging outside to dry, children’s toys and lawn furniture – should be washed twice in hot water to remove residues.
If elected Mayor, I would:
1. Provide the park’s division of the City of Toronto with an additional $ 500,000 per year to implement a comprehensive alternative program on city owned green space. This would enable Parks to buy new equipment and hire experts in integrated plant health care.
2. Pass a by-law that would phase out the cosmetic use of pesticides on privately owned land. Components of the plan for the transition stage would include:
- Providing training for lawn care companies and landscapers about alternatives
- Specific types of property would be targeted for the first year, such as daycare centres, hospitals, seniors residences
- A comprehensive public education program, with adequate funding to support it