UPdate Winter 2001           

To the Editor:

      The new Nova Scotia Municipal Government  Act  (Bill 47), is a sort of
"Omnibus Act" covering  many things. A new section, Section 533(1) gives Halifax
 Regional Authority, and only HRM, additional  power to pass its own by-law limiting pesticide use.   The gaining of this power was a splendid example of citizen democracy winning the day over the lawncare industry lobby.  And it was a splendid example of health and environment interests winning over industry practices which are harmful to the public, out of date, and environmentally destructive.  The organizations which worked for more than two years  to obtain legislated protection from toxic chemicals in local neighbourhoods deserve our deepest gratitude.  They worked for all of us.

      The right to limit cosmetic pesticide use is an important victory for the goals of Health Promotion and Illness Prevention, goals which were actually put forward as Government Policy in "Nova Scotia's Blueprint for Health System Reform" in April,
1994 relating to pesticide use.

      But what about the rest of us?  We're stuck with Section 172(1)j which
 prohibits most NS municipalities from passing anything but a sort of regressive, half-baked by-law . Under 172(1)j,  we can be warned when unlimited applications of pesticides will take place near us. A person is only entitled to this warning when they have a documented medical reason.  Under this law, no reduction or prohibition of pesticides can be required.

      The current Liberal government seems to have forgotten what it earlier espoused.   And it does not seem to understand that Health Promotion and Illness Prevention save Big Bucks in the Healthcare Budget. As it stands, this obstructive and wrong-headed legislation prevents effective regulation of urban pesticides, and prevents access even to prior warning to persons wishing to protect their healthy children, their schools, their drinking water wells, etc.

      It seems clear that Section 172(1)j will have to be struck from the Act, and that Section 533 will have to be amended so that it will apply to all NS municipalities. Let it be up to the municipalities to choose whether or not to exercise this power. It
was pretty dumb of the Government not to do this in June, 1998 rather than put us all through the bother of having to demand this right - over and over again, 54 times.

      So what is happening now?  I can't speak for other parts of the Province, but I can say a little about what is now happening here where I live in Wolfville.  In Wolfville, the East Kings Community Health Association has been reinvigorated, with a new Board, and a "Going Green Committee".  The mandate of the E.K. Community Health Association, founded in 1995, is to promote the goals and delivery of Primary Health Care in the region, which includes Health Promotion and Illness Prevention.  The "Going Green Committee" has taken on the design and implementation of a summer educational program  for the Town of Wolfville, which will aim to wean householders off harmful lawn and garden chemicals,  thus protecting their and our health, and also protecting our water supply
from the runoff of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and excessive nitrogen fertilizers.

      The Town draws up its water from two deep wells into the aquifer which runs along the floor of the Annapolis Valley.  Our goal is to develop a"Wellhead Protection Plan", involving everyone in the Town, and to monitor the water quality.

      It is very obvious to anyone living here that the concentration of industrial-type agriculture makes it a significant contributor to any potential or actual contamination of the aquifer.  This is a fact that cannot be denied.  That is a concern not only of the general public, but of the farming community as well.  It is a problem that we must all solve together.   

      The summer project to Green Up Wolfville, which has the support of Town
Council as a partner, is a beginning. As well, the Mayor is establishing a task force to design an educational program for the next three years.  These projects will only address the domestic, or sometimes called "cosmetic" use  of toxic chemicals.  But
that is significant and will have an impact, probably far beyond the Town boundaries.


Peggy Hope-Simpson, Wolfville, N. S.


Editor's note: The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has adopted a policy aiming to reduce exposure to pesticides and is working to have provincial and territorial governments delegate authority for regulating pesticide use on private property to municipal governments.