Pesticide Bylaws

In 1991, the Town of Hudson, Quebec started the Canadian movement to pass municipal bylaws phasing out the unnecessary use of synthetic pesticides.

Two lawn care companies that use pesticides challenged the Hudson bylaw and ultimately took the case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.  In 2001, the highest court in the land ruled that Municipalities did have the jurisdiction to pass bylaws banning pesticide use. The Supreme Court also suggested that Municipalities use the precautionary principle: “ when an activity poses threat to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken, even though the cause and effect relationship is not fully established scientifically.”  Read more . . .

In November 2005, the Supreme Court again upheld the right of Municipalities to pass pesticide bylaws. rejecting a pesticide company’s appeal of Toronto’s pesticide bylaw passed in 2003.

As of September 18, 2007, 133 Municipalities across Canada have passed bylaws and the Province of Quebec has passed a Pesticide Code banning unnecessary pesticide use. Eleven municipalities are in the process of passing a bylaw.

Calgary is now the largest Municipality in Canada without a pesticide bylaw. Click here to view a sample bylaw - Calgary could pass such a bylaw.

This bylaw would allow Municipalities to use pesticides, if needed for public health reasons. For example, if the use of natural controls, such as Bacillus thuringensis israelensis - Bti (bacteria), does not work to prevent mosquito breeding, mosquito breeding areas could be sprayed to prevent an outbreak of mosquito-borne disease. Bylaws often allow the use of algaecides in swimming pools.

Usually bylaws are phased in, so people have time to adjust. For example, when Toronto introduced it’s pesticide bylaw, bylaw officers issued warnings for two years and only started fining unnecessary pesticide users after three years. Some Municipalities, like Halifax, have implemented the bylaw more quickly for schools, parks, playgrounds, day cares, senior citizen’s residences, universities, churches and hospital grounds.

Click here for a study that found that bylaws are the only effective way to reduce urban pesticide use.

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

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