Is City Council Prepared to Challenge Questionable Pesticide Practises and Stand Up To Troubling Federal Pesticide Regulatory Lapses?

On Wednesday, June 26, the Edmonton Public Services Committee is scheduled to respond to the pending Integrated Pest Management (IPM) review and policy update.  It is disconcerting that little more than a week before that scheduled meeting, it appears that this policy update has not yet  been publicly posted.  Therefore, as concerned citizens and volunteers, our communication strategy is limited by available information gleaned from public engagement sessions attended during the past six months and from the report of those engagements (linked below).  

Based on interactions with the  team contracted to complete the IPM review and policy update, (the IPM Working Group), our main concerns are as follows:  

  • The  IPM Working Group  has made it quite clear that there is no intention to challenge the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), despite evidence of significant lapses in scientific integrity.  Federal regulations provide a minimum standard and the citizens of Edmonton deserve better.  Will City Council acknowledge and respond appropriately to haphazard federal regulatory standards and procedures? 
  • Past behaviour predicts future behaviour, and the City of Edmonton Pest Control Branch has behaved very badly in the past.   For a number of years in the 2000s and as late as 2017, Edmonton was the only municipality in Canada, if not North America to use the potent and volatile neurotoxin chlorpyrifos to control mosquitos.  Despite repeated public questioning of the mayor in 2017, City Administration, through the Mayor,  repeatedly denied that chlorpyrifos was being used to control mosquitos in Edmonton despite the fact that spray sheets obtained through FOIP indicated otherwise.  Public pressure succeeded in persuading City Council to order an audit of City pesticide practises.  When the audit was released to the Audit Committee in January of 2018, the Mayor publicly acknowledged that chlorpyrifos was sprayed during the previous spraying season suggesting, at best, lapses in effective communication between City Hall and the City’s Pesticide Branch.   (See:  https://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/council-questions-use-of-neurotoxin-in-fight-against-mosquitoes).  How will the Mayor and City Council ensure that such lapses and questionable practises do not occur in the future?    

Once we’ve received a copy of the IPM Policy Update, and as we confirm more details about the Edmonton Community Public Services Committee meeting time and place, we’ll send out additional information to bolster our efforts to protect public health and preserve Edmonton’s ecological integrity. 

We would like to give our allies, supporters, city politicians and the media a “heads up” as we gear up to respond to the upcoming IPM review and as we push to bring our IPM  policy concerns and solutions to the public.  

Rod Olstad
Chair
Edmonton Chapter of The Council of Canadians
and member of Pesticide Free Edmonton 
www.edmontoncouncilofcanadians.ca
www.facebook.com/cofcedmonton
https://www.facebook.com/PesticideFreeEdmonton/

Background Information:  
Edmonton City Pesticides Use Audit, Nov. 22, 2017:  https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/audiofiles/17428_City_Pesticide_Use_Audit.pdf

Available info on Integrated Pest Management Review and Policy Update: 
https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/documents/PDF/IPM-Policy-Engagement-WWH-Report-PhaseIII.pdf 

Edmonton Community Public Services Committee Schedule: https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/council_committee_meetings/community-public-services-committee.aspx

Edmonton Community Public Services Committee Agenda/Minues: 
https://www.edmonton.ca/city_government/council_committee_meetings/community-services-committee-agendas-minutes.aspx

Edmonton Chapter podcast produced about chlorpyrifos and Edmonton 
https://edmontoncouncilofcanadians.ca/2017/12/09/edmonton-risks-serious-health-environmental-consequences-with-continued-use-of-persistent-and-potent-neurotoxin-chlorpyrifos-to-control-mosquitos/

 Alberta Naturalist Kevin Van Tighem’s lament for the lowly insect, not many years ago, typically captured in abundance on one’s car windshield on Canadian cross country road trips.    
https://albertaviews.ca/clean-windshield/