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Halifax, Nova Scotia Pesticide Ban is Official
(from April 4, 2003)

After a three-year phase-in, the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada pesticide ban was made official this week. First announced in 2000, the law bans all pesticides used for "cosmetic" purposes. This means pesticides used for lawn and garden pests such as grubs and dandelions are prohibited. Pesticides to combat health risks such as hornets or rats in the home are allowed.

This ban was challenged and upheld by a 2001 Canadian Supreme Court ruling that cities and towns can place bans on pesticides without scientific proof that the pesticide is harmful. If the public perceives that they are at risk from a certain chemical, they can act to protect themselves.

Stephen King, the municipal manager for parks and natural regions, says the phased-in approach has worked well. "I think over the last two years the public education and awareness has really helped. I think having that two-year transition has made a huge, huge difference," Mr. King said. "If we'd gone cold turkey, we wouldn't have had the success we've had today."

When the pesticide bylaw was first introduced in 2000, it only banned the use of pesticides on municipal properties. During 2001 and 2002, the city encouraged residents with health concerns to register their properties to have pesticides banned within a 50-metre radius; in all, 200 homeowners registered their properties.

Mr. King said he expects compliance to be good overall, but for some, finding alternatives to pesticides will be a learning experience. "It's going to take time; it's a whole cultural shift," he said. Enforcement of the bylaw will be complaint-driven.

The full ban restricts pesticide applications for the maintenance of outdoor trees, shrubs, flowers and other ornamental plants and turf.