May 23, 2005

Court upholds Toronto's right to pass pesticide bylaw

The Ontario Court of Appeal has unanimously dismissed a challenge to Toronto's authority to adopt a bylaw restricting the use of pesticides.

Croplife Canada, a trade association whose members include pesticide producers, appealed a previous court ruling in favour of the city. The appeal was dismissed, with costs payable to the city.

"This decision confirms the right of municipalities to pass laws protecting the health and safety of residents. It is a significant public health victory," said Dr David McKeown, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health. Councillor John Filion, who heads Toronto's Board of Health, said the court decision supports healthy public policy.

Toronto will begin phasing in enforcement of the bylaw this year. Commercial pesticide sprayers and commercial property owners will receive warnings for non-compliance this spring and summer. In September, tickets may be issued with a fine of $255 attached. Residents may be fined for non-compliance starting in September, 2007.

Toronto's public health department recently launched a "Go Natural" education campaign promoting tips for environmentally sound lawn and garden care. The Go Natural campaign and other bylaw information may be viewed on the city's Web site, www.toronto.ca/health.

The Urban Pest Management Council, an industry group affiliated with Croplife Canada, expressed disappointment with the appeal court's ruling. "It looks like the Great Toronto Dandelion Festival is a 'go,'" UPMC president Debra Conlon commented.

"Every study and analysis of lawn and garden pest controls, including the very recent review of 2-4-D conducted by Health Canada, has confirmed that these [pest control] products can be used safely when used according to directions," she noted. UPMC advocates "integrated pest management," an approach to lawn and garden care which combines preventive maintenance and responsible, moderate use of federally-regulated pest control products. More information is available on the UPMC Web site, www.cropro.org/upm/eng/UPmain.html.

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