Pesticide ban meets with widespread approval

The Ontario government put the cherry on top of the Earth Day cake, with new legislation regulating the use of pesticides across the province.

On April 22 Environment Minister John Gerretsen proposed the Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Act. The legislation provides universal guidelines clarifying the current format of individual municipal bylaws pertaining to pesticide use.

Landscape Ontario Chair Gavin Dawson is happy about the new proposal.

“It will get rid of the patchwork municipal bylaws that currently exist in Ontario,” Dawson said. “It will level the playing field between homeowners and professionals,” he said.

The current Toronto municipal bylaw was passed in April, 2004. The law bans the use of pesticides on all public and private property except in certain situations. The law applies to everyone, including homeowners, renters, lawn care companies, golf courses and property managers.

Anyone breaking the law is subject to a fine of up to $5,000. So the proposed legislation enhances the current Toronto municipal bylaw.

Right now, homeowners can still purchase pesticides off the shelves of their local retail outlet. Preliminary reports suggest that under the new law, these products will not be sold to the public.

Jill Fairbrother, the director of Scotts Canada which is a retail specialist in lawn care and provides retail outlets with products for homeowners, says there are natural alternatives being sought to provide a similar results for the average lawn.

“We have been taking natural ingredients from throughout the world and incorporating them into our EcoSense product line,” she said. “We currently have a non-selective product that can be used on hard surfaces, but we are now working on a selective product that is a natural alternative to conventional lawn care,” Fairbrother said.

The term ‘non-selective’ refers to killing everything that the product comes in contact with and involves acid as an ingredient, whereas selective products kill insects and weeds, but not the grass on your lawn. The secret to having a healthy lawn can be found in regular maintenance.

“If you want a healthy lawn, you will need to combine regular aeration with over seeding, which promotes root growth, so it takes a bit of effort but it will pay off,” Dawson said.

Health Canada is responsible for making the ultimate decision as to whether a lawn care product is natural or synthetic. This is why people from the industry will be in consultation with the province and Health Canada while drafting the legislation.

“I’m optimistic that when drafting the legislation, that the province will work with the industry to recognize the instances where there will be health concerns, or a threat of property damage,” Dawson said.

Even though the preliminary legislation has passed, the law will be enforced in the fall. Lawn care companies are positive that they will still be in business.

“We are not concerned about losing business, because there is still a lawn tomorrow and people will still want to maintain it,” Dawson said.