Healthy Ecosystems and Pesticide Use in Kamloops

The Kamloops Food Policy Council has launched a series on food and the city to explore a number of deeper civic discussions leading up to our municipal election. As the late urban planner and Canadian food advocate Wayne Roberts wrote, “food is a lever.” Food is how we connect to the land, our communities, and our traditions. And because food is so impactful in all our lives, it is a useful lever through which we can create transformative changes in other areas. Strong local food systems can help us get to more affordable housing, walkable neighbourhoods, stronger local economies, spaces for safety and belonging, and more. 

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Healthy Ecosystems and Pesticide Use in Kamloops

When seasons shift, the changes in our natural world invite themselves to be noticed. The mornings become cooler and the days get shorter as the sun tucks away at an earlier hour. Our gardens race to put out their last fruits. Summer fades and transitions are also marked by the beginning of the school year, celebrations at fall fairs, storing camping gear and bathing suits, and getting back into our day-to-day routines. What I value most about this shift, is gaining some time to reflect on the teachings the summer bustle has offered me. This summer, for both personal and professional reasons, I have been thinking a lot about my connection to this place I call home – Tk’emlúps – and how I can foster a stronger relationship of reciprocity with the land.

What is Ecological Value?
The word ecology comes from the Greek oikos, “home, dwelling place” and -logia, “study of” or “knowing of”. From this etymological breakdown, woven back together, we can roughly define ecology as: the study of our home. For me, this study revolves around an exploration of the interconnectedness in both the human and the more-than-human worlds. The term value comes from Latin “valere” and means to be strong or to be worth. Yet, the word holds more complexity. Our individual values come from a collection of personal worldviews. Together, our worldviews and values help guide what we end up proclaiming as important and worthy of our energy and time. As a collective, our values stem from a myriad of factors: past and present politics, cultural and familial practices (inclusive of religion and ethnicity), and societal expectations. As active citizens of community we must be cognizant of what shapes the value systems in which we find belonging and meaning.

Why is Ecological Value Important?
As inhabitants on this land, and inherent stewards, it is vital that we gain clarity on how we value our home places. Because, no matter how we spend time on this land, whether it be through sports, outdoor adventuring, or gardening, we need to be aware of when we have taken too much without ample reciprocity. When we fail to take into consideration the worth of our land, as with any other relationship we fail to nurture, it will become apparent that something has shifted. Climatic changes and loss of species biodiversity are two examples of relational imbalances. Our ecological system naturally self-regulates and it will return to some level of healthy balance unless our actions interrupt this process.

Caption: Butler Urban Farm, July 2022. Credit: KFPC

Small Changes Matter
As I navigate a more harmonious relationship with this land, I have tried to become more aware of the small places where I can tend to it. It becomes overwhelming when I recognize the cumulative human impacts on this planet, and therefore, as a coping tool and perhaps as a means to feel constructive, I hone in on the achievable. I focus on the small, and mighty, changes that I can make as a community member.

As I become more informed on pesticide practices within the City of Kamloops, I see an opportunity for me to once again consider and clarify my personal values. I live, learn, and love on this land. I also advocate for a city that honours healthy spaces for me to continue to do so.

Replacing Pesticide Use with Healthier Ecosystems
When we talk about healthy spaces, we are referring to the land we live on, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the spaces we inhabit or visit. A healthy city encourages and fosters healthy spaces and healthy lifestyles. Pesticides are a controversial topic. They help us deal with and manage pests of all kinds, but they also cause a wide variety of negative effects for people and our environment, ranging from immediate to severe. Are pesticides encouraging an investment in the ecological value of our land, or are they continuing to promote a colonial mindset that seeks to control the land we live on, rather than live in harmony with it?

Through a spatial analysis of pesticide spraying in Kamloops, we have visually mapped where our City is spraying. Click here to view our interactive story map and learn more about current pesticide use on public lands in the City of Kamloops. You’ll also find additional research about types of pesticides, why they are used, and the negative effects they can have.

Link to the Story Map:

While this information can be intimidating, knowledge is power. Truly seeing where our City is spraying helps us better understand the risks and potential side effects of pesticides on our health, and the health of children, pets and wildlife, and the natural world. It also prompts us to imagine what else is possible: healthy ecosystems, full of life, where people, plants and pollinators can thrive.

KFPC Policy Recommendations for Investing in the Ecological Value of Public Lands
We are recommending the City of Kamloops consider the following strategies to invest in healthy ecosystems on public lands, and reduce the need for pesticide use:

  • Engage citizens in the development of an Integrated Pest Management Plan and increase the transparency of the City’s pest management practices and reporting;
  • Transition more city land to higher ecological values and healthier ecosystems;
    • Adopt more edible landscaping on city lands, including fruit and nut trees and perennial bushes and shrubs, and engage community organizations and neighborhood associations to ensure these areas are well maintained;
    • Replace current landscaping strategies such as manicured annual plantings, mown grass boulevards and hardscaping with native plant bioswales;
    • Transition to a Natural Asset Management approach across all public works operations in Kamloops;
  • Incorporate more alternative methods to control invasive species; and
  • Implement a complete ban on the use of Glyphosate and 2,4-D on all city lands, including spot applications.