Citywide pesticide bylaws don’t necessarily stop or control the use of pesticides citywide, at least based on the experience of other jurisdictions, a representative of Landscape Ontario told North Bay city council Monday night.
Ken Pavely said plant protection is not something to be taken lightly, “as our parks, sports fields, and yes, our home lawns and landscapes provide a number of functional as well as aesthetic benefits.”
As a national representative, Pavely, said, he’s had a “great deal of experience” with bylaws in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia similar to the one council passed Monday night.
By the skid-full
In Hudson, Que., for example, “home of the most the famous bylaw,” Pavely said, “it is astounding to see that 13 years later, products such as Weed and Feed, continue to be sold at local retail garden centres, by the skid-full. In fact, the number one selling lawn and garden product still sold in Hudson is Killex, a well known brand name herbicide.”
On top of that, said Pavely, pictured here, no Hudson homeowner has been charged under the bylaw, “which has endured no less than five amendments in the last 13 years.”
The bylaw was first amended, Pavely said, when Hudson lawns where being destroyed by chinch bugs, “which forced the council at that time to allow for insect infestations.”
A more vivid picture has emerged from Halifax, Pavely said, where the Nova Scotia capital had a phased-in ban that took full effect last year.
“Like here in North Bay, chinch bugs are a major pest, and the city of 300,000 was flooded with just under 4000 requests for inspections and permits to deal with the little critters,” Pavely said.
As well, Pavely said, a major retailer Halifax saw an increase of Weed and Feed purchases of 150%.
“Insecticide sales increased 300%, from the previous year, which he said was very strong in pesticide sales,” Pavely said.
“What has resulted is a huge shift from using professional service applicators, who abide by the bylaw, to homeowners doing it themselves.”
Back in the courts
Toronto has been the centre of another contentious debate on a pesticide bylaw,” Pavely said.
“As a member who sits on the city’s Pesticide Bylaw Advisory Committee, I can tell you that the bylaw is still not yet formulated, and again, is back in the courts.” Pavely said.
“The manufacturers and distributors have filed to appeal, so the legal question is not yet resolved. “
Not a single product
Pavely said it’s “vital” to know that “any bylaw you pass” has no bearing on retail sales of the products.
“If council enacts a bylaw which handcuffs the community’s ability to protect it lawns and landscapes, then the very spirit of the bylaw for which it was intended will be lost,” Pavely said.
And what about effective alternatives to pesticides, Pavely pointed out.
North Bay’s draft version of the bylaw contains a number of exempted products, Pavely said.
But “not a single product on the list” is registered by either the provincial or federal governments to control lawn pests, Pavely said.
“None of the products control chinch bugs, and as such, are not labelled for use on chinch. No professional applicator is allowed to apply any of those products for pest control on lawns, and no store is allowed to sell these products to control pests on lawns,” Pavely said.
Calling for outside help
The city of Ottawa, “having gone pesticide free on its own public lands for several years,” Pavely said, is now calling for outside help in “re-engaging” the use of pesticides on its sports fields.
The Toronto parks department has stated that it cannot afford to maintain parks and sports fields without the use pesticides, Pavely said.
The issue of golf courses must also be addressed, and interested parties should be aware of the Cornell IPM and Pesticide Free project at the famous Bethpage golf course in New York,” Pavely said.
“All three greens on the pesticide-free program had to be stripped and re-sodded after fewer than seven months on a no-pesticide program.”
Engage both sides
Coun. Tom Mason, who chairs the Engineering and Works Committee, said presentations such as Pavely’s are the reason he has set up an advisory committee as part of the bylaw process.
“We’ll have representatives from golf courses, from Turf King, from Nipissing Environmental Watch, and we will continue to work toward the full implementation of a citywide bylaw,” Mason said.
“But we have to engage both sides of the argument.”