Supreme Court Upholds Toronto Pesticide Ban
(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2005) The Canadian Supreme Court has rejected the appeal from the pesticide industry to get rid of Toronto’s pesticide restricting bylaw. The bylaw, passed by Toronto council in 2003, practically eliminates the use of pesticides, particularly those used for lawns and gardens. The pesticide industry, represented by CropLife Canada and the Urban Pest Management Council, argued that the bylaw was unnecessary because federal and province laws already regulated pesticide use. However many environmentalists and supporters of the bylaw feel that the federally imposed laws did not regulate well enough.
According to an article in the Toronto Star, the pesticide industry had already unsuccessfully appealed to the Ontario's Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Appeal, prior to the November 18th ruling of the Supreme Court. Critics of the bylaw accused cities of not having enough expertise in pesticide issues and of trying to undermine Health Canada, the federal department that oversees matters of health and safety.
Supporters of the bylaw saw the industries appeal attempts merely as scare tactics to prevent other municipalities from passing similar legislation. Gideon Forman, of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment commented that, “A lot of municipal councillors were a little bit nervous, on the fence, saying we can't pass our own bylaw until (the Toronto case) is decided...That was the industry's tactic."
Not all municipalities have been as lucky as Toronto. In October the city of Ottawa failed to pass a pesticide ban. People are still optimistic, however, and many believe that the Toronto ruling will give other cities the confidence and precedence they need.
The bylaw restricts the use of outdoor pesticides as of April 2004. As of September 1st 2005, commercial applicators can face up to a $225 fine if they do not comply.
To find out how to have your own healthy and beautiful lawn without using harmful pesticides, go to the National Coalition for Pesticide-Free Lawns webpage. For factsheets and other useful information go to the resources page.