Lack of interest frustrates pesticide foes

Few candidates with their sights set on leading B.C. appear interested in supporting a ban on chemical pesticides.

That’s the feeling of Surrey White Rock Pesticide-Free Coalition member Mel Tomiyama, after just three of nine politicians responded to a question on the issue.

“We sent it by email and we gave them over two weeks, and then we sent it again,” Tomiyama said.

“We are disappointed with the response.”

Tomiyama, a South Surrey resident who co-chairs the coalition’s research and education team, said candidates were given until Feb. 9 to respond to the question: “Would you support the enactment of provincial legislation banning the sale, use and application of cosmetic pesticides on private lawns and gardens, as well as public parks and recreational facilities?”

Liberal candidate Mike de Jong, NDP leader Dawn Black and Green Party leader Jane Sterk all said yes, Tomiyama said.

The other politicians – Liberal candidates George Abbott, Christy Clark, and Kevin Falcon; former candidates Moira Stilwell; and Ed Mayne, and Reform Party leader David Hawkins – either indicated they don’t respond to such polls or didn’t respond at all, Tomiyama said.

In a news release Monday, the coalition referred to the poll as a “Liberal leadership survey,” leading off with the announcement: “Only one Liberal leadership candidate, Mike de Jong, has responded to a one-question online poll put out by the Surrey White Rock Pesticide-Free Coalition.”

However, Tomiyama later told Peace Arch News that the coalition is not for or against any particular party.

“We just want the government to act,” she said.

Surrey White Rock Pesticide-Free Coalition formed in 2007 to encourage bylaws restricting cosmetic use of pesticides. Such bylaws now exist in more than 170 municipalities across Canada, including Surrey and White Rock.

Tomiyama cited a 2009-10 consultation that found 88 per cent of respondents in favour of provincial legislation banning chemical pesticides and a motion made in that regard at the 2008 UBCM as evidence that citizens want government to take action on the issue.

But the province – along with the majority of those who want to lead it into the future – has yet to step up, Tomiyama said.

“This is, to me, such a no-brainer,” she said. “B.C. people want this. Three-quarters of British Columbians want it, so I don’t really understand what the problem is.”