Ottawa, Ontario Pesticide Reduction Initiative

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Ottawa, Canada

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Type: Program

Status: Initiated on 12/18/02

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On December 18, 2002, City of Ottawa Council adopted of a three-year pesticide reduction strategy to encourage residents to voluntarily reduce the use of cosmetic pesticides on private property. Council established three targets for pesticide reduction, by 2005: 100% reduction by institutions such as schools, hospitals, daycares and homes for the aged; 70% reduction on residential properties; and 65% reduction on all remaining non-residential properties. Council also directed that if those targets were not achieved, the city would prepare a by-law for the end of 2005.

Many residents of Ottawa are aware of the dangers of pesticide use but aren't certain what can be used as appropriate replacements - we aim to help citizens like you by suggesting safe, viable gardening practices like hand weeding, and aerating composting, and proper seeding and watering. When you visit your local garden centre, ask them about pesticide-free gardening, and the alternatives products they could show you.

In 2004, the Ontario College of Family Physicians conducted a comprehensive review of pesticide research on the effects of pesticides on human health, which showed consistent links to serious illnesses such as cancer, reproductive problems and neurological diseases, among others. The City continues to work directly with the community and community groups to spread the message about the need for a reduction in cosmetic pesticide use due to its harmful effects on humans, pets and the environment. You can help spread the word by talking to your friends and family about the potential dangers of pesticide use.

The City of Ottawa is committed to a healthier, greener, safer city for everyone to enjoy. With your help, we can improve the beauty and well being of our natural environment by using safer alternatives to pesticides. Have a great, healthy gardening summer!

Pesticide Questions and Answers

Has the City of Ottawa banned pesticides?
No it hasn't. The City has eliminated the cosmetic use of pesticides on City property, and is encouraging residents to reduce the use of pesticides on private property.

Are other municipalities taking action with regards to pesticides?
Over 60 cities and towns across Canada have passed by-laws to restrict pesticides. The City of Toronto enacted a bylaw on April 1, 2004, as did the City of Montreal in March 2004. The City of Halifax has implemented a phase-in by-law, which took full effect in 2003. The City of Vancouver will have a by-law in effect on January 1, 2006.

What are pesticides?
A "pesticide" is anything used to kill insects, weeds, plant diseases and other unwanted living things. They include insecticides, rodenticides, herbicides and fungicides.

What does "cosmetic use" of pesticides mean?
"Cosmetic use" of pesticides generally refers to the non-essential use of pesticides. In other words: the use of chemical pesticides for purely aesthetic reasons, to enhance the appearance of property.

What is the current City policy regarding pesticide use?
On City of Ottawa property, the only justification for the use of chemical pesticides is if there is a serious risk to human or animal health, or if the survival of trees or shrubs is threatened. Pesticides cannot be used for cosmetic purposes.

The City is also responsible for controlling noxious weeds (as defined by provincial legislation: The Weed Control Act). The act states that, "every person in possession of land shall destroy all noxious weeds on it." By regulation, the province has designated 23 plants as noxious weeds. These include poison ivy, poison hemlock and ragweed.

Does the reduction in pesticide use apply to farmers?
The focus of this campaign is non-agricultural.