The city has been served notice of an Ontario Human Rights Commission complaint filed by North Bay resident Jim Cotter, Mayor Vic Fedeli acknowledged at Monday night’s council meeting.
“We have been served and we will be responding by the deadline in February, and that’s all I can say at this point,” Fedeli told BayToday.ca following the meeting.
Cotter, shown here, a Korean War veteran, suffers from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and wants a new pesticide control bylaw to be implemented citywide right now.
Council passed a bylaw Monday night that controls pesticide use in the Trout Lake watershed area within 50 metres of the lake. The bylaw will be expanded citywide after a year.
Improve and protect life
Cotter made a presentation at council last night and alluded to remarks he said Fedeli made Jan. 12, after the bylaw was referred back to the Engineering and Works Committee instead of being passed.
“Mr. Mayor, your comment was ‘you’ve won the battle but you may have lost the war.’ I believe that your statement was incorrect and as you are now finding the situation is being revisited,” Cotter said.
“As a matter of interest this is neither a battle nor a war, but a group of concerned citizens trying to improve and protect life in our community. We certainly hope that you and the rest of council are on our side.”
All council had to do to make the by-law "all-inclusive," Cotter said, "is to add the Lake Nipissing watershed."
Vacillated on the issue
Cotter, who had sat on the Ad Hoc Pesticide Advisory Committee, then singled out Coun. Sarah Campbell, stating she had “vacillated” on the issue.
Campbell responded, asking Cotter if it was not agreed by the ad hoc committee “that we go slowly” and that the resolution of the committee was to go citywide.
“Well you may have agreed to that, but I didn’t, and one of things that I am after is to get enough air to breathe in the summer,” Cotter said.
“I have to live with two puffers, pills and a respirator, now do you think that’s fair?”
The biggest concern of the committee, Campbell said, was making sure North Bay residents were educated about the pesticide issue before the bylaw went citywide.
“We all decided that the product was out there to purchase, and that we couldn’t enforce this bylaw if it was to go citywide, that we couldn’t have people checking up on what’s in that hose, what’s in that can, we knew we had to educate first,” Campbell said.
She then started to suggest that perhaps the bylaw be fine-tuned to prohibit spraying on Cotter’s street, saying, “you have a very reasonable concern.”
That’s when Fedeli stepped in.
“Excuse me Coun. Campbell, but considering we have been served papers that we intend to respond to through our solicitors when it’s due in February, I would hope that we would leave that individual discussion and shut that one down.”
On a related note Dr. Susan Nori, a North Bay chiropractor and physiotherapist, addressed council and talked about the link between long-term pesticide absorption and certain cancers and degenerative brain diseases.
"That in itself is suffient evidence to stop the cosmetic use of pesticides in our community," Nori said.
As well, Nori said, while advocating on behalf of a citywide bylaw, "all of our lawns leach into the sewer system and will eventually end up in our waterways whether you’re 50 meters from the water, or 1,000 it doesn’t matter."
North Bay doesn't have a water filtration plant either, Nori said, "nor we do not have a water treatment plant at this time which is capable of removing the chemicals which are in the pesticides, and we do end up reingesting them to a certain degree."