Port Alberni reverses ban on herbicide, allows Roundup

Concern within the community prompts city council to look at whether use of the controversial herbicide should be banned again.

Port Alberni city staff is preparing a report on where the herbicide Roundup is being used after a city councillor demanded that its use be banned, yet again.

Coun. Wendy Kerr said she wants the city to look at banning the use of the Roundup, which is made by controversial agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto, even though city council lifted that ban about six months ago.

“I missed one meeting and they killed it,” Kerr said, explaining how the use of Roundup was allowed again.

“They know I’m the green councillor and somehow, this bylaw was changed when I wasn’t here.

“I was mad at all of them.”

City council received three separate e-mails from Port Alberni residents George Warren, Gary Lajeunesse and Richard Kudra, demanding a ban on the herbicide because of its active chemical ingredient, glyphosate.

According to the Sierra Club, glyphosate has been shown to kill beneficial insects and can cause destruction of red blood cells, lung dysfunction and kidney damage. A study of Ontario farmers found those using glyphosate had an increase of miscarriages and premature births within their families.

The Sierra Club’s website states the chemical itself has been considered safe in various tests done by others, but when used within the community, “a different result has emerged.”

The province conducted studies on Roundup and did not ban it, which was one reason why the ban in Port Alberni was discontinued. However, Kerr said just because the province didn’t ban it, doesn’t mean it’s not poisonous.

“Is it okay to poison your kids a little?” Kerr asked rhetorically. She also said governments make mistakes such as saying at one time that cigarette smoking was safe.

Kerr told council on Monday that she would like to see the herbicide banned for use by the city again, but Coun. Dan Washington suggested city staff prepare a report first.

“If it is being used near children then this is a concern,” Washington said.

“If it’s only being used in places where there is no pedestrian traffic then it might not be a problem.”

Washington said the ban was lifted because alternatives to Roundup were not effective and it was costing the city more time and money to remove weeds. He also figured that the herbicide can’t be totally bad, otherwise there would be a total ban on it.

Coun. Jack McLeman said he used to be against the use of Roundup, but his opinion has since changed.

“It doesn’t seem to be as bad as we were told,” McLeman said. “We stopped using it because of the cancer society [who championed the ban before].”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com