Does your Winnipeg City Council candidate favour a municipal bylaw, if needed, to restrict non-essential uses of pesticides?

With the very real possibility that the Manitoba Government will weaken the current legislation restricting non-essential uses of pesticides, Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba surveyed all candidates for Winnipeg City Council to discern who would stand up for public health by maintaining the ban as a municipal bylaw in the event of Provincial backtracking. See the text of the letter, below.

43% (or 23) of the total 54 candidates responded by our deadline of October 4. While we would like to have heard from more candidates, we were pleased that, of those who did reply, the majority were in favour of maintaining pesticide restrictions in the form of a municipal by-law. For the full results, and to see where the candidates in your ward stand, see this summary of responses —  Survey of Winnipeg City Council candidates.

A similar question, framed for a yes or no response, was posed to the candidates for Mayor of Winnipeg at the Environmental Forum in September. At that event, incumbent Mayor Bowman supported maintaining the ban (“Yes”), along with the majority of other mayoral candidates. Candidate Motkaluk seemed unsure of her response, and candidate Woodstock said “No.”

Election Day is Wednesday, October 24. In Winnipeg, visit the City of Winnipeg official election web site for voting information. For voters outside Winnipeg, please check your city or town web site, or contact your local municipal office.

Here is the text of the letter that was sent to Winnipeg council candidates.

Letter to Candidates for Winnipeg City Council

September 14, 2018

Dear Winnipeg City Council Candidate,

Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba is a coalition of health and environmental advocates with a mission to reduce exposures to the unnecessary toxic chemicals used in lawn and greenspace care. We are pleased that the Province of Manitoba passed legislation, effective in 2015, that bans the use and sale of many lawn care products that have been linked to a range of ill-health outcomes. With this legislation, Manitobans joined the majority of people across Canada who are protected from lawn care chemicals through legislation or by-laws. The ban is province-wide and thus includes the City of Winnipeg.

However, there are indications that the Provincial Government is preparing to change the relatively new regime for weed control on green spaces. These possible changes could result in chemicals once again being widely used on lawns, in neighbourhoods, and parks, thereby exposing vulnerable people, including children, to increased risks of learning disabilities, asthma and a wide range of other illnesses. This in spite of provincial polling that shows the majority of Manitobans prefer a chemical-free approach, and the fact that even the Chief Public Health Officer for the Province states that “If pesticides are not needed, they should not be used”.

We are surveying all candidates to ascertain your position on this issue. We intend to publicize the results to contribute to the informed choice that Winnipeggers can make in electing their councillors.

If elected, would you support protecting public health by maintaining the ban on these so-called “cosmetic pesticides” as a municipal by-law in the City of Winnipeg, in the event of provincial changes?

Please feel free to consult our website for further information on this issue. We would appreciate your response … by Monday, October 4.

Thank you for your commitment to civic issues!

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