The province has outlined new legislation that will reduce the use of chemical pesticides on lawns where pets and children play.
Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh tabled the province’s long-awaited pesticide legislation on Tuesday, which allows Manitobans to purchase chemical pesticides, but only for use on their home flower and vegetable gardens.
The ban would only restrict the use of pesticides for cosmetic use on lawns, adjoining sidewalks and patios, school grounds, playgrounds, playing fields, health-care institutions and child-care centre grounds. It will not affect agriculture and forestry industries or golf courses.
Brandon Humane Society shelter manager Tracy Munn said using pesticides on lawns has always been a concern for those living in her neighbourhood.
"It is a concern because people forget that animals eat grass, kids roll around and play with their puppies in the grass so it is dangerous," Munn said. "There’s so many chemicals ... animals get sick, kids get sick, it’s awful."
Mackintosh said these measures are aimed at protecting children and pets from exposure to potentially harmful pesticides that some research has linked to cancer and other ailments.
"There’s no need to risk our children’s health when there are lower-risk alternatives available," Mackintosh said. "This new legislation will ensure it does not matter where they are — at school, home or at daycare — they will be able to play on the grass that is free from potentially harmful chemical pesticides."
However, the changes won’t have much of an impact on lawn care companies until next year, according to Brandon and Winnipeg area Weed Man owner and former Landscape Manitoba president David Hinton.
"This summer will be basically business as usual," Hinton said, adding the company has offered alternative products to its Winnipeg and Brandon customers for a number of years. "We give our customers the choice, next year they won’t have the choice basically."
Mackintosh said the legislation is expected to take effect in January 2015, followed by a one-year grace period for homeowners.
Hinton said that while his business is all about maintaining "good, healthy lawns," alternative products are pricey.
"Manitoba conservation, we feel, shouldn’t be in the business of regulating these products because they really don’t have expertise in it," Hinton said. "Everybody in Manitoba is gonna have a higher cost in maintaining their properties and that’s what we don’t agree with."
Hinton said alternative products on the market are as much as 70 to 80 per cent more expensive and have to be applied more often.
"All of those things increase the cost of applications a lot."
Hinton said these regulations will most likely affect municipalities, cities and rural areas with big stretches of land and grass to maintain.
"If you have a big lawn, it’s going to be a lot more expensive, if you have small lawn ... it’s not that bad," he said, adding he’s not too concerned about how these changes will directly impact his business. "People still want a great healthy looking lawn and a nice looking house and that desire doesn’t change."
How the ban will be policed and what chemicals will fall under it still has to be determined through consultation with retailers and the lawn-care industry, Mackintosh said.
Penalties for deliberately using the banned chemicals on a lawn could result in a fine, but that still has to be determined, Mackintosh said, adding enforcement will likely be through a combination of inspections and complaints.
Manitoba will join 170 municipalities and six provinces with restrictions on cosmetic pesticides in place. Brandon currently has a bylaw restricting cosmetic-pesticide use near schools, daycares and parks.
A website will also be launched this spring to provide further information on the impact of the new legislation for homeowners and businesses, and what alternatives are already available on the market.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from the Winnipeg Free Press
Most companies have eco-friendly herbicide product lines available in Manitoba that contain low-risk ingredients such as soaps (ammonium salts of fatty acid), iron as FeHEDTA (commonly known as iron chelate), acetic acid, citric acid and corn gluten meal. Products that can be found in Manitoba include:
• Scotts EcoSense Weed B Gon;
• Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Fertilizer with Weed Prevent (corn gluten meal);
• Vigoro Bio Weed and Feed (corn gluten meal);
• Scotts EcoSense Pathclear;
• Green Earth Weed and Grass Killer;
• Safer Top Gun;
• Ortho Moss B Gon;
• Wilson Total WipeOut; and
• Bioprotec Lawn Herbicide.
» Province of Manitoba