Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Canada craziness finally infects Guelph

Guelph, with more than 100,000 residents and home to one of the top research universities in North America, is not what you would call a hick town. But, you’ve got to wonder about the leadership in this vibrant Canadian city, located about 65 miles west of Toronto. In fact, you have to wonder about the leadership in towns and cities across Canada.

OK, let me say upfront that this is about lawn care products, the kind that anybody can buy at any garden center, big box or hardware store. If you're not interested in the ongoing controversy involving the use of these products by professionals in Canada, tune out now. If you’re in the turf services business and, in particular, you're a local politico, you’ll find what I have to say interesting, whether you agree or not.

As a former (and longtime) city hall reporter I thought I had heard and reported on just about every cockamaymee new piece of legislation that the fertile minds of local lawmakers could float.

Hmm, let’s see. There was the proposal to control wild rabbits in one city because a particularly vocal councilman complained that the critters were damaging the vegetable and flower gardens of his neighbors. That effort failed, as did a similar recommendation in another community to license pet cats in the city, with one ward councillor even proposing they be subject to the same leash law as dogs. (On reflection, maybe that wasn't such a bad idea.)

It’s almost impossible to add up the hours I sat witnessing misguided attempts by local legislators to protect citizens from this hazard or that, most of them being of the annoyance variety and practically all of the them overstated and sometimes comically over-dramatized.

I’m not saying that hold local lawmakers to be dishonest, mean spirited or even that they put their own interests ahead of their constituents — well, perhaps occassionally. Indeed, I’ve sat elbow to elbow with dozens of council members, commissioners, zoning board appointees, etc. at local pubs or coffee shops, and we've engaged in friendly conversations on a range of issues. And sometimes we've even agreed on a point or three. Most of these local representatives were intelligent, honest, civic minded . . . and sometimes woefully ignorant of a particular issue or, giving them the benefit of the doubt, closed minded to opposing viewpoints, even when they the viewpoints are supported by evidence or facts
Is this the case in Guelph and elsewhere in much of Canada where local lawmakers have either passed or are in the process of passing laws restricting the use of pesticides by professional lawn applicators?

These laws target lawn care companies almost exclusivey.

The question is: Why are just professional lawn care companies being singled out when homeowners can continue to buy and use exactly the same products?

The bigger question is: Why are local lawmakers even involved in this issue?

This is senseless, and especially in Guelph, home to the Guelph Turfgrass Institute, the premiere turf research and educational facility in the entire country. — Ron Hall

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