yellow flowers with purple flowers

Politicians poised to degrade protective policies against “cosmetic” pesticides

Dandelions are not top of mind as winter storms roll across Canada, but spring could bring looser rules for pesticides use. Regulations and policies that were hard-won by health and environmental advocates over decades are disintegrating like ice in April.

CALGARY

On January 13th, 2020 , civil society and citizens ask Calgary City Council to:

  1. discuss (don’t rubber-stamp by consent) the proposed pesticides policy, and
  2. send it back to staff to institute healthy, ecological, climate-friendlier landscaping policies.

A new, weakened Pest Management Policy on the January 13th Calgary Council “consent agenda” could be rubber-stamped without even being discussed by Calgary Council. It would replace the 1998 Integrated Pest Management Policy (see p29).

The new policy is ambiguous and vague, “prioritizing” human and ecological health (will health be a high priority?) and removing specifics such as notice provisions, pesticide-free tot-lots and buffer zones. Prevent Cancer Now discussed the present and proposed policies, while our friends at Coalition for a Healthy Calgary pose very important questions.

Calgary needs least-toxic, best practices for organic, regenerative landscaping to: protect human and ecological health; capture carbon in the soil and address climate change; and blunt “heat islands” in hotter summers.

Democracy was denied. The proposed policy did not undergo the promised public consultation; immediate pre-holiday participation at Committee was thwarted because (contrary to required procedure) documentation was posted less than 2 days before the meeting; and voluminous other documentation distracts from the fact that Council is voting on a short, 4-point policy.

Calgary has a poor history of pest management. One example was improper use of triclopyr — a pesticide that mimics hormones.

ONTARIO

Toxic chemicals are poised to return to urban landscapes and cemeteries, with new regulations under omnibus Bill 132.

Ontario’s Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act was the best law in North America, limiting pesticides for “cosmetic” purposes (e.g., lawns and gardens) to least-toxic products. Protections are being gutted by Bill 132 and regulatory loopholes.

Premier Ford’s Bill 132 was promoted as maintaining the Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act but extensive amendments mean that the list of permitted pesticides can be expanded to include any and all pesticides at the discretion of the Director.

Prevent Cancer Now submitted comments, including that:

  • stringent criteria should continue for least-toxic landscaping;
  • cemeteries should not be exempted from restrictions as golf courses and specialty turf for smooth playing have been; and
  • IPM implementation and golf course reporting that was supposed to reduce pesticides needs to be accountable. Data should be submitted electronically, for transparency and research to improve turf management. Our analysis found that pesticide use varies widely among golf courses courses, meaning that many courses could reduce pesticide use. We found no evidence that pesticide use fell with IPM training and golf course reporting of pesticide use.

The Cosmetic Pesticides Ban Act prohibits municipal pesticides bylaws, so the entire province is poised to lose this important protection for human and ecological health. Concerned citizens should contact Ontario Ministers, MPPs and the premier.

Total Pesticide Use — prestigious Ontario golf courses