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From November 13, 2001

Toronto Residents Discuss Restricting Cosmetic Pesticides

Toronto's city council recently agreed to hold public consultations on restricting cosmetic pesticide use on private property, such as on lawns. Toronto has cut back chemicals in other areas, too: Since 1998, the city has voluntarily reduced 95 percent of its pesticide use on city-owned property.

Since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in June that Canadian municipalities could ban non-essential pesticides, cities are lobbied by industry, health, and environmental groups. According to The Toronto Star, "The justices found that 'environmental values' held by a majority are more important than the right to use a legal product.

Toronto's board of health proposed the public consultations. The board's chair reassured council members that they did not want a total ban on pesticide use. Chairman Joe Mihevc said, "An absolute ban isn't appropriate." Mihevc claimed they are still necessary to kill mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus and that some herbicides are useful in ridding noxious weeds that cause health problems.

According to Mihevc, if public discussions are done by early spring, a bylaw could be in place by the summer. However, Toronto's economic development and parks committee must agree on any new bylaws.

Toronto is the most populous city in Canada. Only a few other local governments in the province of Ontario have started to look seriously at pesticide restrictions.