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Ban on private pesticide use in Vaughan by early March

Council will move ahead with a plan to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides on private property after a unanimous vote Monday.

City staff now faces the task of drafting a bylaw and implementation plan that will come before council Feb. 19 with enforcement scheduled to begin March 1.

“I think that we can be proud that the City of Vaughan has been a leader in this initiative,” Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio said at last week’s committee meeting. “We don’t often sing our own praises, but we’re not lagging behind.”

Mayor Linda Jackson expressed concern over the city’s inability to stop retailers from continuing to sell cosmetic pesticides, even after a usage ban is implemented. Councillor Alan Shefman said he hopes the province’s recently announced pesticide ban will deal with the retailing issue.

“We don’t know what that (provincial legislation) will mean or when that will come, so that’s why we’re proceeding,” he said in committee. “Hopefully, we will have, if not supportive, at least complimentary legislation, perhaps to address the issue of what’s on the shelves and what is available for individuals to use.”

Carlo DeFrancesca, of Greenigans Lawn Care and the Professional Lawn Care Association of Ontario, said this week that banning the use and sale of pesticides in Vaughan would actually make things worse. People would just buy the banned products in a neighbouring municipality without a ban, he said.

“Why would you want to make (each of the) 60,000 garages in the city of Vaughan a potential storage facility for these pesticides?” DeFrancesca questioned. “And then you’re putting (pesticides) in the hands of unlicensed people.”

At last week’s committee meeting, Shefman said concerns remain about how the ban will apply in special circumstances, particularly golf courses, something DeFrancesca singled out as a potential “double standard” in the looming bylaw.

The Woodbridge resident also questioned whether York Region, the jurisdiction ultimately responsible for enforcing any potential ban, would be able to cope with the increased demand on inspectors.

“I don’t think (Vaughan’s councillors) have the qualifications to scrutinize the work of the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency,” he said, pointing out the Health Canada department already tests and regulates pesticide products. “This is a municipal council.

“It’s just a political play and it’s not based on any scientific evidence.”

DeFrancesca went on to say he thinks the city should reconsider its plan to ensure all voices are heard before a bylaw is officially in the books.

“I think the city should be putting on the brakes and slowing down a bit, involving the community at a larger capacity, and involving members of the scientific community,” he said.

Vaughan Today
Online: December 17, 2007 [link]