23 May 2003
bars cosmetic pesticide use
Ban enrages lawn care operators
but no charges until 2006
Bruce Demara and Paul Moloney
homeowners will have to find alternatives to chemical weed killers
to keep dandelions at bay and lawns green after city council adopted
a bylaw to restrict the use of pesticides on private property.
bylaw, which comes into effect next April, will focus on public
education to discourage pesticide use before enforcement begins
in September, 2005. Even then, property owners using pesticides
for non-essential or cosmetic purposes will only face warnings until
2006, when $250 fines kick in.
council adopted the bylaw by a surprisingly wide margin —
26 to 16 — after almost two days of debate which saw an urban-suburban
the debate, politicians were under the watchful eye of lawn and
garden care industry operators who had very reluctantly signed onto
a "compromise" deal, which included delaying enforcement
and having a special committee deliberate on contentious issues
such as a definition of "infestations," in which restricted
pesticides could be used, and whether golf courses should be included.
in celebration mode and I think the residents of the City of Toronto
should be proud. We are now in the forefront of pesticide legislation
in Ontario and indeed in Canada," said Councillor Joe Mihevc
(Ward 21, St. Paul's), chair of the board of health, which first
championed the bylaw.
Jane Pitfield (Ward 26, Don Valley West) called the decision "almost
is going to have huge repercussions for the whole (pesticide) industry.
This is the largest city in Canada to do this. A lot of other municipalities
are watching us. It's going to have a domino effect across North
America," Pitfield said.
the council chamber exploded into shouts of anger and recrimination
during the voting process after city council approved the addition
of a member of the organic gardening industry to a 11-member pesticide
implementation advisory committee that will spend the next year
ironing out the contentious parts of the bylaw.
guards removed several lawn operators amid cries of "fascist"
and "it's a screw job."
council hastily beat a retreat, re-opened the item and reversed
Miller, spokesperson for the Toronto Environmental Alliance, called
the council decision "a big win."
had the (lawn care) industry lobby coming at us with everything
and the kitchen sink. We feel ... that city council has supported
a bylaw that's going to protect children's health, protect the environment
and it's going to allow people to have beautiful lawns," Miller
Lorraine Van Haastrecht, spokesperson for the Toronto Environmental
Coalition, which represents a group of lawn care operators, said
she felt "very angry, very disappointed and actually violated."
reaching a compromise on the bylaw, Van Haastrecht said her colleagues
did not get equal representation on the pesticide advisory committee,
which will deliberate on the critical issue of "infestation"
— the level beyond which pesticides can be used.
can you trust these people? For 26 months, they've been lying to
me. I don't trust them at all," she said.
fact, lawn care and landscaping representatives have four positions
on the committee, compared to two environmental representatives.
Rob Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) called the bylaw "the worst
thing that could happen."
whole city is going to be weeds, mice, rodents. It's already dirty
as it is. We have to clean it up.
losing our rights in this city. You can't do anything and it's your
property. That's dictatorship," Ford said.
bylaw, flawed process — end result is that homeowners will
have their properties looking just like most of the public properties
I saw ... infested with weeds and dandelions," said Lorne Hepworth,
president of CropLife Canada — which represents pesticide