Williams Lake Canadian Cancer Society office manager Ian Mackay is hoping to see a ban of cosmetic pesticides in Williams Lake. Mackay is missing part of one lung and said when chemicals are sprayed on local lawns he feels the impacts.

Williams Lake Canadian Cancer Society office manager Ian Mackay is hoping to see a ban of cosmetic pesticides in Williams Lake. Mackay is missing part of one lung and said when chemicals are sprayed on local lawns he feels the impacts.

Seniors lobby for ban on cosmetic herbicides

Seniors in Williams Lake hope to see a ban on cosmetic herbicides.

Several seniors in Williams Lake are hoping the city will move to ban the use of cosmetic herbicides because they believe the chemicals, specifically Par III, impact their health when they are sprayed into the air.

Canadian Cancer Society office manager in Williams Lake Ian Mackay is missing part of one lung and said there’s an odour to the chemicals used on lawns that hurts his breathing.

“My lungs are suffering and it’s a concern,” Mackay said. “I think there are a lot of people in the community like us. Even the people spraying are wearing masks, so it cannot be good for you.”

Since Mackay began voicing complaints, he’s heard from more and more people who have similar concerns.

Glen Lahey operates Weed and Free Lawn care in Williams Lake and said he does use Par III Turf Herbicide and it’s perfectly legal.

Some of the lawns he services don’t require any Par III because they’ve been well-maintained.

He is licensed to use herbicides, and has not had many complaints in 25 years, he said, adding he’s cut down his use of chemicals drastically.

“I had three or four people who were allergic to the smell of the fertilizer and all we do is call them up, let them know, they shut their windows and they are fine.”

Lahey said he uses such a “small amount” on weed control.

His company has been trying to go more natural and has been educating customers on how to sharpen lawn blades and develop watering routines that are more effective. He also uses a double hose system so that only the areas with weeds get sprayed.

“Fourteen or 15 years ago they used to just spray weed control over the whole lawn so they didn’t have to come back,” Lahey recalled.

In 2012, the B.C. Government’s special committee on cosmetic pesticides released a decision not to recommend a provincial ban on the use of pesticides.

“The committee assessed all the evidence carefully, taking more time than originally planned, and the majority of members concluded that currently there is insufficient scientific evidence to warrant a province-wide ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides,” the report noted.

Over the counter sales of weed control were banned last year because of misuse, Lahey said.

“They left it with the commercial companies to handle and that’s us. Health Canada basically said as long as it’s used properly by licensed people there’s no harm in it.”

The Canadian Cancer Society Southern B.C. chapter said around 40 municipalities have adopted bylaws restricting the use of pesticides and herbicides on private and public lawns and gardens.

In Williams Lake there is no ban, yet as a rule city crews only use a tiny bit of Roundup in some areas.

“We use almost none when it comes to herbicides and pesticides,” the city confirmed.

Kamloops adopted a bylaw restricting the use of pesticides and herbicides in March 2010, however, under the bylaw licensed companies can still use Par III.

Brent Blysma owns Culture Care Landscaping in Kamloops. He stopped using Par III five years ago and has chosen to get away from herbicides and pesticides as much as possible.

“We don’t spray any pesticides or herbicides,” Blysma said. “Pesticides and herbicides are not good. If they kill something it’s not good and they aren’t good for my crew’s health or the environment.”

His company does, however,  subcontract to provide spraying of herbicides and pesticides if customers want them.

Blysma used Par III previously to take care of weeds in lawns because it is “incredibly efficient,” does an excellent job, and is inexpensive, compared to labour. “If I did use it, it was because of the demand of the customer,” he said.

“They wanted weeds gone on the lawn but wouldn’t pay $1,000 for us to pick them out by hand.”

Blysma, like Lahey, has been educating his customers.

“The best thing to do is grow an appreciation for dandelions and realize it’s OK if there are weeds in your lawn,” he said, adding people need to keep their lawns healthy.

“The more healthy your lawns are then they will choke the weeds out.”

Patti King is a team leader and health educator with the Canadian Cancer Society, based in Cranbrook, and said rather than targeting one chemical the society opposes what chemicals are being used for.

“If chemicals are being used to enhance a lawn or garden, our stance is that we call for a ban for use on private and public lands, such as parks, sports fields, especially places where children are.”

Children are a special concern because they are still developing, King said, adding there is growing body of evidence linking exposure to pesticides with a higher risk to certain adult and childhood cancers.

“Last year the Ontario College of Family Physicians did a pesticides literature review and it showed consistent links to serious illnesses such as reproductive problems, respiratory problems and neurological diseases linked with pesticide exposure,” King said.

Mckay said the next step will be to create public awareness in Williams Lake and hopefully make a presentation to city hall.

“I can’t believe that people would spray their lawns if they knew that it poses a health risk to others,” he said.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 80+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Williams Lake RCMP are investigating after suspects assaulted two employees at a convenience store and fled with cash and merchandise. (Black Press file photo)
Williams Lake RCMP investigating robbery at local convenience store

The robbery occurred Saturday evening, Feb. 27

?Esdilagh First Nation health department staff were thrilled to rollout out the community’s first COVID-19 vaccines Friday, Feb. 26. L-R: registered nurse Sam Riczu, elder worker Marie Conway, wellness coordinator Linda Siwalace, community health representative Sharon Palmantier and youth coordinator Dakotah Casey. (photo submitted)
?Esdilagh First Nation receives first COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccination clinic held Feb. 26 for high-risk elders

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Highway 97 two-vehicle crash near 150 Mile House claims one life

The collision closed the highway at 150 Mile House

Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty chairs an opioid crisis working group pushing for policies to stop the flow of illicit drugs in Canada. (Victoria Police Department photo)
‘The opioid crisis impacts all of us’: Cariboo Prince Geroge MP Todd Doherty

Todd Doherty is co-chair of Conservative Party caucus opioid crisis working group

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

(Black Press file photo)
Child in critical condition, homicide investigators probe incident near Agassiz

The child was transported to hospital but is not expected to survive

Sewage plant in Lower Mainland, operated by Metro Vancouver. (Metro Vancouver screenshot)
‘Poop tracker’ launches as researchers test Lower Mainland sewage water for COVID-19

‘Studying the virus in wastewater allows researchers to look at an entire population…’

Compensation fund opens for B.C. students negatively affected by incorrect exam marks

Marks for 2019 provincial exams were incorrectly tabulated

Time to check the mail: Every household to receive a Canada Post postcard this spring

Postcard can be mailed for free to any address in Canada

The humanoid sensing robot has a 3D printed finger cap that measures oxygen levels. (Dr. Woo Soo Kim)
Medical care robots being made with 3D origami in B.C. lab

Would you let a robot take your temperature?

Most Read