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Proposed legislation not outright pesticide ban, but would limit use

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Manitobans who use synthetic chemical pesticides to kill dandelions on their lawns will have to find other means to keep their grass green.

Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh outlined legislative proposals today that would ban the chemicals for cosmetic use on lawns, adjoining sidewalks and patios, school grounds, playgrounds, playing fields, health-care institutions and child-care centre grounds.

Mackintosh said the long-promised measures are aimed at protecting children and pets from exposure to potentially harmful pesticides that some research has been linked to cancer an other ailments.

However, the proposed legislation would not ban pesticides outright, but it would require the use of approved lower-risk bio-pesticides for weed removal on lawns. Pesticides will still be allowed on home gardens — just not on lawns.

The new restrictions would not affect the agriculture and forestry industries or golf courses.

The legislation is supported by medical and environmental groups, and the Winnipeg Humane Society. Ontario and Nova Scotia already have similar legislation in place. Manitoba will join 170 municipalities and six provinces with restrictions on cosmetic pesticides in place. Brandon has a bylaw restricting cosmetic-pesticide use near schools, daycares and parks.

Critics say the legislation is too heavy-handed as many of the chemicals used by lawn-care companies to control weeds are approved by Health Canada.

Mackintosh said the legislation is expected to take effect in January 2015, followed by a one-year grace period for homeowners. Before that the province plans to consult the lawn-care industry and others on the nuts and bolts of the still-to-be drafted regulations.

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. Many alternatives are already being promoted.

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