Organic Consumers Association

Montreal Takes Step Towards Banning All Pesticides

City banning pesticides
Few exceptions. Virtually all lawns affected by proposed bylaw


The Gazette

Friday, February 21, 2003

Activists applauded the city of Montreal's proposed ban on pesticides
yesterday but warned that the devil is in the details.

The proposed bylaw would ban pesticide use outdoors on virtually all
private or public property, with a few limited exceptions. Covered under
the ban would be any use by homeowners of insecticides, herbicides and

Permits would be required when the city deems pesticide use justified,
and homeowners or companies who defy the ban would be subject to fines.

"We're doing this to protect the health and well-being of people ...
whether they live in the north, south, east or west end," said Alan
DeSousa, executive committee member responsible for sustainable

Only one former suburb on the island of Montreal, Baie d'Urfé, has a
full pesticide ban in effect. About a dozen others have restrictions on
how and when pesticides can be used.

Those bylaws will continue to apply until the city passes a bylaw.

That could take some time, however, because DeSousa has called for "very
broad consultation" on the draft bylaw.

Mayor Gérald Tremblay has promised to have a pesticide bylaw in effect
by this spring, but DeSousa said yesterday he would not want to
prejudice public consultations by giving too short a deadline.

He said the issue is controversial, so he wants to take time to hear all
sides out.

He said the bylaw will set a minimum standard across the island, but if
it is adopted, boroughs can vote to go farther, and remove exceptions or
tighten conditions under which pesticides can be used.

"We've kept it pretty simple; the basic principle is that the use of
pesticides is not allowed on the island of Montreal with seven
exceptions," he said.

Pesticide use would be permitted:

In swimming pools and decorative ponds.

To manage golf courses, bowling greens and on property used for
agricultural or horticultural purposes.

At the Insectarium, Biodome and Botanical Garden.

Within five metres of food storage depots to control vermin.

To control spiders and ants in doorways, windows and around the base of

To control infestations.

In the latter three cases, homeowners or lawn care companies would have
to request and pay for a special permit from the city, and a city
employee may be sent to assess whether pesticide use is necessary.

Proposed fines for flouting the bylaw would be up to $2,000 for
homeowners and up to $4,000 for companies.

Michel Gaudet, vice-president of the Coalition for Alternatives to
Pesticides, said the draft bylaw is stronger than most existing bylaws
on the island but not as strong as those in Baie d'Urfé (which has a
full ban), Westmount, Île Bizard or Town of Mount Royal.

"Basically, it's a good bylaw," Gaudet said.

His concerns are with the exceptions and with the fact that the city
doesn't seem to be moving fast enough to get the ban in effect for the
coming spring.

Spiders and ants can be managed without resorting to pesticides, for
example, and the bylaw should specify they can only be used after other
methods have failed, he said.

The bylaw allows for no exceptions in "sensitive" zones, such as
day-care yards, schoolyards, playgrounds in city parks, and the grounds
of hospitals, seniors' residences and places of worship.

Gaudet said not just playground areas but the entirety of city parks
should be covered by the bylaw.

Gaudet's wife, Rohini Peris, suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity,
a chronic condition triggered, her doctors believe, by exposure to
Lindane, a pesticide used to control spiders. For people like Peris, a
pesticide ban cannot be enacted soon enough.

"I was poisoned by pesticides," she said.

"I have developed a whole lot of allergies, to the point where it is
hard to leave the house without a mask."

Cases like Peris's are relatively rare; an estimated one per cent of the
population suffers from some sensitivity to chemicals. But research has
found links between pesticide exposure and various health problems,
particularly among young children, and people with respiratory problems.

The province has promised to enact a pesticide code, which will control
the sale and storage of these products, early this year.

The federal government passed a Pest Control Products Act in December,
which tightened rules for product approval and called for a reassessment
of older pesticides.

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