Save Taxpayer Dollars

Why a Bylaw?  To Save Taxpayer Dollars

Using unnecessary pesticides is very costly to taxpayers. This is not necessarily in terms of the chemicals themselves, but in the long-term costs of paying for such things as:

•  the health care for those who are poisoned or have longer-term health challenges due to pesticides
• the loss to the economy of the contributions of those whose health is affected by pesticides
• the loss to the economy of those who move away to live in places with pesticide bylaws
•  the long-term costs of restoring the environment.

For example, pesticide use has cost us dearly in the loss of pollinating insects that are necessary for our food supply. These can be restored if we act now to reduce pesticide use.

Natural Landscaping Can be Much Less Costly

Exact cost comparisons between natural and chemical landscaping practices are difficult to make because so much depends on how each is done.  The trend appears to be that when an institution, government body, business, or household decides to use natural landscaping practices, costs are rarely a limiting factor. The extra costs can be negligible - for example, $1.20 more for a household bottle of the natural, vinegar-based weed killer than a bottle of the chemical Roundup.   Large savings can also result from natural landscaping. For example,  Toronto’s prestigious golf club, ‘The Granite Club’ reduced costs by $40,000 when they cut their pesticide use in half (2). The City of Waterloo reduced its maintenance cost by 40% per acre over 6 years. Click here to download their report.

Generally, using natural landscaping practices saves money on chemicals. Institutions also save money on the special equipment and training necessary for staff to properly use chemicals. Institutions usually make an initial investment of new equipment and training to use natural landscaping practices. Households generally don’t need new equipment. Using natural landscaping practices requires more labour, especially in the beginning year or few years - for such practices as spreading compost or overseeding grass with new grass types. That labour investment generally becomes less over time.

For homeowners, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation commissioned a study that found that when yards have low-maintenance types of lawn, or have landscaping with less lawn, the costs over the long-term are less than with a conventional lawn. (3)

Natural Landscaping Benefits the Economy

When Halifax passed their pesticide bylaw in 2000, they found that the landscaping industry grew afterwards. Read more . . .

Other Benefits of Using Natural Landscaping

Using natural landscaping practices contributes to the health of our air, soil, water, wildlife, and beneficial insects which benefits everyone in many ways.
 For example:
•  The Banff Springs Golf Course in Banff National Park has adopted natural landscaping practices to protect the environment - a benefit to the tourism industry
•  Native insects contribute at least $57 billion worth of services annually to the U.S. economy (pollination, insect control, converting manure to fertilizer) (4)
•  Those who live in Halifax, which passed a pesticide bylaw in 2000, say they benefit from the good feeling of looking after the earth (5)

Then there is the “peace of mind” that comes to people like the parents of students in the Rockyview School district, which has used natural landscaping methods since 1996.  Rockyview parents know their children are playing and learning in a safe outdoor environment - that is priceless!

Click here for actions you can take to support a pesticide bylaw.

Click here for how to use natural landscaping practices in your yard.


1) Dennis Bueckert, “Decline of bees and other pollinators raises concern for food supply,” Canadian Press. January 19, 2007. Read more . . .
3) Daigle, Jean-Marie, Ecological Outlook, Residential Landscapes: Comparison of Maintenance Costs, Time and Resources. Commissioned by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Government of Canada, Ottawa,  2000. Available only in print- a copy can be requested free by calling the CMHC library at 1-800-668-2642.
Available for viewing at the Arusha Centre, #106, 223 - 12 Ave. SW,  Calgary. tel: 270-8002.
This study followed 30 gardens in Southern Ontario over two years - with seven different landscape types. All inputs were tracked. The study also included hypothetical design of seven types of gardens and the costs to install and maintain them over a ten year cycle. A literature review was also part of the study.  Read more . . .
4) John Losey and Mace Vaughan, Bioscience, 2005 cited in Berger, Cynthia, “What are Bugs Worth?” National Wildlife Magazine.  Oct/Nov 2006, 44(6)  Read more . . . 
5) Peter Verge, Manager of Sports Fields, Halifax Regional Municipality, Personal Communication, Feb. 28, 2007.

Ginny Brown

“We want to live in a Calgary where taxpayer dollars are spent to restore and protect the environment.”  Ginny Brown

Click here for her full story.