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Key Vote: Pesticide Ban

After a day and a half of debate, City Council approved a compromise deal to implement a pesticide ban, which would not be enforced on residential properties until September 2007. City Council voted in 2003 under Mayor Mel Lastman to implement a pesticide ban starting in April 2004, however debate around exceptions to the ban (such as infestations) brought the issue back to Council a year later. City staff, including the medical officer of health, recommended a total ban on pesticides for residential properties. However, councillors faced fierce lobbying by lawn-care companies and the pesticide industry, working under the name 'The Toronto Environmental Coalition' (attempting to draw upon the credibility of the Toronto Environmental Alliance), opposed any restrictions to pesticide use.

Board of Health Chair John Filion (Councillor for Willowdale) brokered the compromise deal, which would implement a total ban but would not be enforced on homes until September 2007. Lawn-care companies will not be allowed to use pesticides starting in September 2005, with a $255 fine for offenders. The compromise motion bridged between the staff recommendation of a total ban, and a watered-down approach that would allow pesticides with only 5% of weeds on private lawns. The overall policy also provides more education for residents on pesticide alternatives. Filion's compromise motion is the vote documented below.

Over 60 Canadian cities and towns such as Montreal, Halifax and Waterloo have implemented pesticide bans in recent years, and City of Toronto parks are currently pesticide-free. Based on a review of 250 scientific studies, the Ontario College of Family Physicians has warned that pesticides cause a wide range of health problems, including genetic damage, cancer (especially prostate, brain and pancreatic cancers), nervous system disorders, reproductive problems and birth defects.

See the voting records of earlier vote on a pesticide ban in May 2003 here.

Vote Essentials:
That council introduce a residential pesticide ban, with enforcement on homes starting in Spetember 2007, and in September 2005 for lawn-care companies.

Voting FOR a pesticide ban: 26
Altobello, Augimeri, Bussin, Carroll, Cho, Chow, Cowbourne, Davis, De Baeremaeker, Filion, Fletcher, Giambrone, Hall, Jenkins, Li Preti, Lindsay Luby, McConnell, Mihevc, Milczyn, Miller, Minnan-Wong, Moscoe, Pantalone, Pitfield, Rae, Saundercook

Voting AGAINST a pesticide ban: 17
Del Grande, Di Giorgio, Feldman, Ford, Grimes, Holyday, Kelly, Mammoliti, Nunziata, Ootes, Palacio, Shiner, Soknacki, Stintz, Thompson, Walker, Watson

Vote Date: May 20, 2004

Vote Specifics: Part (1) of motion (b) by Councillor Filion, in Clause No. 1 of Joint Report No. 1 of the Economic Development and Parks Committee and the Works Committee, headed "Implementation of the City's Pesticide By-law".

For more information, see the City Council Minutes. (PDF file opens in a new window.)