Businesses in British Columbia (B.C.) can still use pesticides to improve the look of their lawns, but a proposed regulatory amendment could leave that practice squarely in the hands of lawncare professionals.
Still, many health care advocates say even that restriction doesn't go far enough, and want to see an outright provincial ban on cosmetic pesticides, which most advocates claim to be unnecessary. A call for such a ban has previously been endorsed by 22 health and environmental organizations.
It’s a debate that’s raged for years on the West Coast, where many individual municipalities have introduced bylaws regulating pesticide use. Past government consultations resulted in the largest number of individual comments ever received by the B.C. government on an issue. Bans have been adopted in Ontario, Quebec and all four Maritime provinces, as well as in 40 municipalities around B.C.
The recent B.C. proposal relates to an amendment of the Integrated Pest Management Regulation (B.C. Reg. 604/2004), which concluded its public consultation process on December 8, 2013.
At the heart of the proposal, B.C. wants to limit the sale and use of more toxic pesticides, while at the same time increasing signage when a pesticide has been applied. But the proposal is also a mechanism to expand the list of Schedule 2 and Schedule 5 pesticides that any private homeowner and business can safely use to keep their property weed-free.
More industrial forms of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides (such as 2,4-D or permethrin) would require a licence for purchase and use.
Municipalities and First Nations, however, will be able to opt-out of the licence requirement for pesticide use in private landscaped areas, the province has proposed.
“Granting a monopoly on using these pesticides to lawn care companies is not good enough for kids, pets, bees or, indeed, anyone who ends up exposed to pesticides,” said Andrew Gage, staff lawyer at the West Coast Environmental Law Association, who issued a statement on the public consultations for the proposal.
If approved, the amended Integrated Pest Management Regulation would be implemented in two phases over spring 2014 and spring 2015. The first phase would focus on enforcing the licence element for pesticide use, while the second phase would target vendors, who would need to take action to control the way they display more toxic pesticides available for sale.