July 15, 2008
The pesticide ban in Ontario officially became law on Wednesday, June 18th, just before the legislature broke for a three-month recess. Third reading was given to Bill 64 by a vote of 56 to 17.  More than 300 pesticides are on the banned list.

Ontario Minister of Environment John Gerretsen said that golf courses would be exempt, but “subject to strict conditions that would require pesticide use reduction over the year.” Farms and managed forests are also exempt under the new legislation. The new law supersedes existing municipal bylaws.

The landscape industry hopes to work with Ontario’s environment ministry to address key issues, such as an allowance for infestations and changes to sign posting regulations. The ministry is expected to take recommendations on the key issues to cabinet in late summer and release draft regulations for discussion and final feedback in early fall.

Globe and Mail columnist John Barber accused Landscape Ontario of influencing the legislation. In his June 19th column, he wrote, “Mr. (Philip) Dewan and his client, Landscape Ontario, got most everything they asked for when the McGuinty government’s new pesticide ban passed third reading yesterday.”

The environment minister counters that Bill 64 bans the retail sale of pesticides, unlike the municipal laws which only prohibited use of the products.

LO responds to columnist’s stance on pesticide law

Following the publishing of John Barber’s column “Lobbyists are the worm in the legislator’s apple,” Globe and Mail, June 19, 2008. Landscape Ontario has issued a response.

John Barber of The Globe and Mail fails to understand the basic reason why Ontario needs one province-wide standard for pesticide use. Municipalities have no legal authority to regulate sales. All that current bylaws do is shift pesticide use from trained and licensed professionals to homeowners, who can still purchase pesticides at retail stores and don’t need to post signs when they use them.

The provincial law will prevent both lawn care companies and homeowners from applying pesticides for cosmetic purposes, resulting in a much greater decrease in total pesticide use than if every municipality enacted a Toronto-style bylaw.

Landscape Ontario would prefer that all governments rely on science-based federal health and safety standards for pesticides, rather than imposing arbitrary restrictions. However, given political realities, we support a uniform standard to at least treat commercial operations and the do-it-yourself market equally.

Bill 64 will present a significant challenge to the professional lawn and landscape care industry, requiring new techniques to maintain green environments in the most environmentally-friendly manner. We recognize this challenge and are willing to meet it by working with the government and the Ontario public.

Gavin Dawson, chair,
LO Lawn Care Commodity Group