Turf & Rec

Features Government Affairs
Some good news, finally, regarding B.C.’s pesticide use


June 12, 2012
By Mike Jiggens


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Golf course superintendents, lawn care practitioners and just about
anyone else involved in the professional management of turfgrass in
British Columbia are breathing a sigh of relief after the province’s
special committee on cosmetic pesticides recently concluded there is
insufficient evidence to warrant a province-wide ban on the use of 
chemical pest control products.

This ends months of anxiety and uncertainty among those in the industry in Canada’s westernmost province, who had feared new legislation might take the tools from their hands in a way that might have been even harsher than that experienced in Ontario.

The committee has, however, recommended a number of measures aimed at overall pesticide reduction in British Columbia. What’s been recommended actually makes perfect sense, and it’s a shame Ontario’s legislators couldn’t have seen fit to do likewise when they had the chance four years ago.

What has been recommended in British Columbia is that restrictions be placed on the sale and use of commercial-class pesticides. This includes regulatory changes to bolster retail rules and step up sales monitoring. It has largely been the do-it-yourselfers outside the industry who have given pesticides a bad name. They’re the ones who give little or no notice to the products’ labels and think they know all there is to know about pest control products. They’re the ones who make the licensed and trained applicators look like the villains. If measures can be put in place to keep these products out of the hands of the average Joe, that’s a step in the right direction.

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The committee has also recommended that golf courses embrace the pillars of integrated pest management. This isn’t a shock to the golf industry at all. In fact, IPM has been practised for several years already at most, if not all, golf courses in not only British Columbia, but Canada as a whole.

All political parties were represented on this committee whose members should be applauded for taking such things as science and common sense into consideration when making their list of recommendations.
In Ontario, a private member’s bill has been introduced by Halton MPP (Progressive Conservative) Ted Chudleigh “to amend the pesticides act to provide for the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes with a licence.” First reading of Bill 88 in the Legislature was made on May 9.

The amendment would allow pesticides to be used for cosmetic purposes in accordance with a licence of a prescribed class. In other words, certain currently outlawed products could be used again if applied by licensed applicators. If this bill gets its required second and third readings and royal assent, it would be a major victory for the lawn care industry in Ontario.

Perhaps legislators in Ontario can take a page from British Columbia’s book and acknowledge what common sense backed by science can achieve. Putting these products into the hands of properly trained and fully-licensed applicators is really the key.

When a province depends so much each year on tourist-generated revenue, how good can its marketing be when throngs of Americans cross the border in the summer to be greeted by landscapes of weed-infested lawns and boulevards?

Somewhere along the line, common sense has to prevail. British Columbia got it right. Now it’s Ontario’s turn to right a wrong.