Portland Pesticide Ordinance Public Hearing
by Bridget Chase
UPDATE (6/19/2017): The location of the 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm Wednesday, June 21st meeting for Portland’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee has moved to the Council Chambers at City Hall 389 Congress Street in Portland.
The Sustainability and Transportation Committee announces a pesticide ordinance public hearing.
The committee will begin the review of the draft pesticide ordinance submitted by the Pesticide and Fertilizer task force at its June 21st meeting. The meeting will include a presentation of the South Portland ordinance that has begun to be implemented and what has been learned.
Councilor Nick Mavadones, who chaired the Pesticide and Fertilizer task force, will speak to the Sustainability committee about the draft pesticide ordinance. A public hearing will follow. Residents will have a chance to comment on the proposed pesticide ordinance and the direction the City of Portland needs to take.
The Draft Ordinance
In May of 2016, Portland’s City Council charged the Pesticide and Fertilizer Task Force “…to review the draft pesticide ordinance under consideration in South Portland, ordinances in other jurisdictions, as well as scientific literature regarding the effects of pesticides on public health and the environment…. to minimize the environmental and health impacts of chemical pesticides and fertilizers.”
Since the formation of the task force, South Portland City Council passed an organic pesticide ordinance. Also, Mayor Ethan Strimling referenced the need for a strong pesticide ordinance in his January 2017 State of the City address.
Ultimately, the task force asked for two extensions. They met into February of this year before agreeing on a compromise ordinance.
The task force struggled between adopting an organic approach like the City of South Portland or keeping with Portland’s current Integrated Pest Management approach. Notably, the compromise ordinance that the task force finally passed was neither. It was a disappointment to both sides.
Councilor Thibodeau is grateful for the time and effort the task force gave to this ordinance. And he is optimistic that the Sustainability and Transportation Committee can build on their work. The goals is to draft an ordinance that meets the City Council’s expectations. Namely, it should be a strong piece of legislation that protects Portland’s people, wildlife, plants and waterways from excessive pesticide use.
Thibodeau’s enthusiasm to tackle this issue is backed with a commitment by the Sustainability committee. He says they will do what it takes to keep this ordinance moving in a timely manner. But also, devote as much time as needed to get the ordinance right. So, on the table for the committee are adding extra committee meetings and seeking input from state, local and national authorities on pesticide use.
Thibodeau admits the goal of submitting an ordinance for a Council vote before the end of the session this year is ambitious. But, he sees it as doable.
The draft pesticide proposal will be available for the public as part of the meeting packet. Also, it will be available ten days before the committee’s June 21st meeting, if not sooner. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, on the second-floor of City Hall.
West End News will have a link to the draft ordinance on its website.
Bridget Chase is a West End resident.