Supporting the use of Pesticides

Letter to Mayor and Council:

I was very disappointed, but not overly surprised, to read in the Apr 3rd. issue of the Guelph Tribune, that Guelph city-council plan on having an out right ban on pesticide usage for residential lawns. I wonder if this decision was a political one or a scientific one. My guess is that it is purely political.

As a long time resident of the fine city of Guelph, I have taken pride in maintaining my home and property in a neat and environmentally friendly state. I maintain a fair sized garden and small pond, and a 5 cu yd. , 3 section, compost bin, but I also keep a well manicured lawn. To keep the lawn, I use water sparingly as per the Guelph water wise program, and use chemicals sparingly. This has allowed me to keep it free of noxious and other weeds. (read:native plants by some) The chemicals are applied sparingly by a licensed firm, who follow the Provincial guidelines for such applications. I feel they would know more about this than any city- councilor. And keep in mind that as a profit making enterprise, this company would not apply any more chemicals than is absolutely necessary, so as to reduce their expenses.

I also read in the same issue of the same paper that according to Ron Schiedel of the Ontario Turfgrass Research Foundation, that banning the use of pesticides along with the strict water restrictions in force in Guelph will increase the invasion of weeds into my lawn. This, to say the least, is very disturbing and frustrating.

I have not read where proper application of any of these chemicals has caused any harm to persons or property in Guelph. I have not read where it is even close to entering the water table. I have read where most of the chemicals are used up by the lawns and the balance will be absorbed into a thin layer of top soil.

I do read where this may enter the water table or may have harmful affect to the population, especially those with Asthma. But as I stated before, I have not read where this has actually caused any of these side effects. Being a little harsh here, people can choose to walk where the lawns are brown and full of weeds, but I cannot move my lawn.

People in favour of the banning of pesticide usage always refer to the cosmetic appearance of lawns. This is not completely true. Although I do appreciate the appearance of a lush green lawn as apposed to a weed infested brown lawn, a very large reason for the weed control is to also keep the weeds out of my garden. I also realize that some residents don’t care about the appearance of their property in particular their lawns and or gardens. That is their choice and they don’t have to and they certainly don’t appear to use pesticides. I, on the other hand, do care and do therefore want the option of using pesticides when required.

If you recall, it was not that many years ago that these same people complained about the noxious weeds in the city and residents were forced to cut them down or remove them by some other way. That was when pesticide usage really started to take off, as it was found that manual weeding was not effective.

It seems to me that the only ones who comment on this issue or show up at council meetings are the special interest groups, who for what ever reason feel they have to control every one in this fine city.

I strongly urge you therefore to re think this discision, and allow Guelph to remain green and weed free. I am sure that the majority of home owners (Note: not apartment dwellers or tenants) will agree that a green lawn, weed free is better for the environment and better for the natural attraction of Guelph.                    CW

0 thoughts on “Supporting the use of Pesticides

  1. CW,
    the issue is not lawns, it is that a paradigm shift has to occur in all our thinking. The world is in trouble. Only scientists who are paid to deny that things are getting worse think the world is not in trouble. Go outside and breathe the air, it get’s worse every year.
    Things are going to get even worse before they get better, they may get a lot worse, it all depends on what we do now. The lawn is a decorative concept that has very little value in a world where drinking water is going to become an ever more precious commodity.
    This is like a war footing we need to go onto, except it is a peace footing, one that requires us to act for the good of each other, so that we can trust our neighbours enough to turn our backs on them when the going gets rough.
    The use of one more speck of toxin is too much,
    they are tiny bits of a vast array of deadly substances and practices that are accumulating in every life form on the planet that breathes them in and regulates the gases exhaled. The extinction of such lifeforms is gathering momentum, and when they’re gone they’re gone for good, creating an ever worsening scenario for the survivors.

    The 20th Century dream of home and security went too far, it was rooted in too much trauma within the generations that outlived the sacrifices
    of the wars, people fled into their sorrows and raised their families in consumer fantasy lands while their depths filled with debts of consequences denied.

    It’s time to awaken from 20th Century nightmares, because we have set nemesis loose upon the future. The task of the generations of these times is to face what humanity’s madness caused, and to transform it through good will and common cause.

    That’s what this council is thinking about, not lawns or pesticides, but how to avoid a civil war over water futures.

  2. Mr. Prager – you simply do not have your facts straight. There are many environmental benefits to a healthy lawn including;

    – On a block of eight houses, the front lawns have the cooling effect of 70 tons of air-conditioning. The plants, in transpiring water to cool themselves, also cool the surrounding area.

    – A 250 square foot lawn produces enough oxygen for a family of four. The average lawn traps significant amounts of carbon dioxide as well as particulate matter.

    – Healthy lawns prevent soil erosion and enhance ground water recharge.

    Such hysteria is rather… uhm… hysterical. Whatever apocalyptic vision of the future you have, it will certainly not be caused by healthy lawns maintained with care.

  3. Patricia:

    It may very well be that a certain sized lawn has the same air conditioning power that you mention. But I very much doubt that the alternative to spraying your lawn is to leave a bare patch of dirt. 😉

    And it certainly has been the case that after I got rid of the lawn on my yard and planted a wide variety of trees, shrubs and hedges that the air is a lot cooler than it was before when there was grass. All done without having to spray the yard.

    The problem is that nice, green turf in Southern Ontario during August is about as exotic as a coconut palm. There are lots of other options and I would suggest that I have no interest in breathing in or drinking pesticides, just so someone can have an exotic, environmentally impoverished ecosystem on their yards.

    One last thing. The only reason why Guelph went through this pesticide issue in the first place was because the ministry of the environment studied the stormwater catchments in new Guelph subdivisions and were flabbergasted at the high concentrations of pesticides they found there.

  4. You were there and you saw them flabberghasted? Or is there a report of some sort? I would enjoy reading one if it were available to the public.

    PS – I would not advise drinking from any puddles, Mr. Hulet – pesticide free community or not. *wink*

  5. You peaked my curiousity Mr. Hulet, and I went to your website. Some of the plants you showcase are very interesting (I didn’t know Cactus was native to southern Ontario! *wink*) and I thought about my soft, green “exotic as a coconut palm” lawn.

    But along with the Cactus, there were many other plants listed, among them;

    Hollyhocks – another desert tropical plant native to the eastern Meditteranean

    Roses – which were introduced into Europe from China, and most modern cultivated roses can trace their ancestry there.

    Peonies – native to Asia, southern Europe and western North America

    Ivy – native to Atlantic islands, Europe, Northwestern Africa, central-southern Asia and east to Japan

    Myrtle – native to southern Europe and Northern Africa

    Sage – native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean

    Lavendar – native to the Canary Islands, north & east Africa, Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Arabia and India

    Wikipedia is an amazing tool, isn’t it? So I’ll let you enjoy your non-native plants in your backyard, and perhaps you can let me enjoy mine.

    My “exotic as a cactus in Canada” lawn will cause you no health problems, I assure you.

  6. Oddly enough, prickly pear cactus is indeed a native to Southern Ontario—or at least the Southernmost part of it: Point Pelee. Funny how out of touch people are with the world around them.

    The point of my comment about the lawn being exotic is that it only keeps green through heroic measures. In contrast, the plants you list from my garden do quite well without any spraying and with very minimal watering (from our co-op’s rainbarrels.)

  7. What I read of your site it just mentioned cactus, not the species. However, that is a singular moot point, since there are many other non-native species in your supposedly “naturalized” yard.

    But once again you are mistaken about lawns. There is nothing “heroic” about their upkeep. A springtime weed & feed takes about 10 minutes, overseeding any bare spots takes about five. I’m fortunate to have a shady lawn with mature trees, so one or two deep waterings a summer is all it requires. (I also have rain-barrels, but I typically use that for my veggie garden.) Pushing around an electric mower is decent excersize, and I typically use the mulching feature.

    The lawn is soft for both me and my greyhounds to lie on… and feels wonderful and cool in the morning between bare toes. My nieces and nephews can enjoy a mini-game of soccer when they visit, and the whole family enjoys playing Bocci during a summer barbecue. A healthy lawn is part of our outdoor living space… and it is something I truly enjoy and will continue to argue for.

    I cannot imagine any of those treasured activities in your backyard Mr. Hulet.

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