Daily News Archive
From July 7, 2001

Canadian Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Residential Pesticide Ban

On June 28, 2001, the Canadian Supreme court ruled that Hudson, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal, had been within its rights when it banned the use of pesticides on lawns in 1991. Environmentalists applauded the court's decision calling it a "great step forward." According to Reuters, the court also said the Quebec legislation that Hudson used to implement the ban was similar to laws in many other parts of Canada, which in effect, gives other local authorities all over Canada the right to follow suit.

"We're thrilled. We've had municipalities across Canada just waiting with their fingers crossed for this decision," Angela Rickman, head of the pesticide reduction campaign for the Sierra Club of Canada told Reuters. "A number of other communities will now be able to move ahead without worrying about negative financial consequences. I think it's a great step forward for the health of Canadians."

Since the Hudson pesticide ban in 1991, 36 other Quebec towns have enacted similar bans. Realizing that their toxic businesses would suffer as a result of these laws, two Quebec lawn-care companies took the case to the Supreme Court claiming the town of Hudson had overstepped its bounds.

According to Reuters, the court disagreed with the lawn-care companies, and announced in a unanimous decision that "our common future, that of every Canadian community, depends on a healthy environment." The court also noted that local municipalities are closest to the everyday lives of citizens and most responsive to their needs. "Based on the distinction between essential and nonessential uses of pesticides, it is reasonable to conclude that the town bylaw's purpose is to minimize the use of allegedly harmful pesticides in order to promote the health of its inhabitants," the court said.

The 1991 Hudson bylaw did not apply to farmland and gave golf courses a five-year exemption. Similar laws have been passed in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba and two of Canada's three Arctic territories.