Lawn-care firms fighting for pesticides

Province’s planned ban isn’t based on science: agri-retailer


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LOCAL lawn-care companies are calling on Premier Greg Selinger to put a stop to his government’s impending phase-out of chemical pesticides.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/06/2013 (3523 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

LOCAL lawn-care companies are calling on Premier Greg Selinger to put a stop to his government’s impending phase-out of chemical pesticides.

The industry association Landscape Manitoba is firing out about 150,000 mail-outs to Manitobans this week in a bid to get them to send in attached postcards to Selinger, telling him they oppose the “weed-control ban.”

It’s the latest salvo in a one-year fight between lawn-care companies and the province over its planned ban of cosmetic residential lawn-care products such as WeedEx and Roundup, a ban that appears to be days away from being announced by Conservation and Water Stewardship Minister Gord Mackintosh.

Joe Bryksa / Winnipeg Free Press Dandelions dominate the front yard of a home on Burrows Avenue Tuesday.

“We have a number of concerned members who just don’t want to sit back and let the NDP pass legislation that has no basis,” David Hinton, owner of Weed Man and president of Landscape Manitoba, said Tuesday. “We want to make citizens aware of it.”

Hinton and others, including Delaney Ross-Burtnack of the Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers, said Manitobans will regret the NDP imposing the ban, a ban a number of other provinces, states and cities have already introduced to protect people from possible health risks.

Experts, such as the Canadian Cancer Society, say government should focus most on reducing exposure to pesticides where these products are needed least.

The lawn-care industry points to a 2011 online survey done in Ontario two years after its ban that showed approximately half of all Ontarians wanted to see the ban repealed or diminished. The same poll, by Blacksheep Strategy, also found more than half of Ontario homeowners continued to use products illegally or risk damage to their own health and the environment by concocting homemade alternatives.

In British Columbia, a poll by the Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association showed the majority of British Columbians favoured having access to pesticides around their homes and in public green spaces over a provincewide ban.

“It’s only afterwards that people kind of realize what’s involved and realize that they can’t maintain their properties to the same level anymore,” Hinton said.

Ross-Burtnack said the province’s planned ban isn’t based on science as the chemicals, to be phased out over a one- to two-year period, are approved by Health Canada.

The industry has mounted similar campaigns in Ontario, but the province’s ban remains in place.

“We keep up the fight against these bans that aren’t based on science because it’s important we get the message out that these products are safe,” Ross-Burtnack said.

In place of the outlawed chemicals, organic or bio-pesticides have become more widely available, but Hinton said they tend to cost more and aren’t as effective.

Mackintosh said while the province has listened to all sides in the debate, it will roll out its phase-out plan and education campaign later this month.

“It’s not a matter or question of whether to spray or not to spray, it’s what’s in the spray,” he said, adding bio-pesticides are already the only weedcontrol products available at large hardware stores.

Last month, an independent poll done by Probe Research Inc. found a majority of Manitobans supports the idea of the province phasing out cosmetic pesticide use on lawns and gardens. The poll found 55 per cent of those surveyed said they are in favour of eliminating the use of these chemicals on lawns and gardens, including 28 per cent who strongly support and 27 per cent who moderately support the lawn-care chemical phase-out.

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