Surrey’s environmental watchdog is asking council to close loopholes in the city’s pesticide bylaw by deleting exemptions from the legislation.
Instead of executing those recommendations Monday night, council referred the matter back to staff.
On May 23, Surrey’s Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) combed over the city’s two-year-old bylaw prohibiting pesticides for cosmetic use and recommended the only two exceptions be removed.
One of them allows Surrey’s use of weed killers on athletic playing fields.
The city’s parks representative told the EAC the city didn’t use any weed killer in 2010 and only a litre in 2011.
EAC member Bob Campbell said if that little is needed, the switch to none at all shouldn’t be hard.
He also challenged the notion that weeds pose a hazard to user groups, of which none has reported an injury from slipping on a weed.
“Nobody’s ever died on a dandelion,” Campbell said Tuesday.
The other bone of contention for the EAC was an exception written into the bylaw for “infestations.”
Infestation is poorly defined in the bylaw, critics say, leading some companies to spray lawns at will, claiming it is infested.
Under the bylaw, an infestation is “the presence of a pest in numbers or under conditions that involves an immediate risk of damage to property or significant financial loss in respect of the use of property.”
The EAC recommended to council that both exemptions – infestations and playing fields – be stricken from the bylaw.
Council received the minutes from that meeting Monday, but didn’t move to strike those portions of the bylaw.
Instead, it has been referred to staff, which Campbell notes, has made its position on pesticides abundantly clear.
“If they just want to find out what parks thinks, we all know what parks thinks,” Campbell said. “If that’s the process that we need to do to get it done, then we accept that. But (councillors) have seen these issues before, and we would have liked to have seen them react.”
Coun. Bruce Hayne, who chairs the EAC, said the issue has gone back and forth a couple of times, but it was prudent to send it back to staff.
“Parks realizes that there has to be some middle ground,” Hayne said. “Parks and Rec are going to look at that and come back with their recommendations.”
He said a report should be back before council by fall.