Following the lead blazed by the City of Toronto and other municipalities, the Ontario government has promised to adopt “New legislation [to] ban the cosmetic use of pesticides in cities and towns.” Now, until February 17, 2008, it is seeking public comments on how the ban should work.
Despite its promises that agriculture, forests, golf courses and pesticides used to protect health (e.g. to fight West Nile) will be exempt, the province is seeking public comment on every aspect of the ban:
1. The scope of the ban.
2. Whether the province should ban the sale of pesticides used solely for cosmetic purposes, in addition to banning their use?
3. Whether agriculture and managed forests should be exempt?
4. What rules should be imposed on golf courses? and
5. Timing. The government proposes to introduce legislation in the spring of 2008, with a phased-in implementation (e.g. 3 years).
This whole initiative is a great tribute to the little town of Hudson, Quebec, which first took on the seemingly impossible task of adopting a ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides. Because they persisted, all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, and won, Toronto was emboldened to adopt its own bylaw. And once Toronto successfully defended its bylaw in court, the door was open for every municipality in the country to do the same. Quebec prevented a patchwork by adopting province-wide legislation; now Ontario will follow suit. Sometimes it only takes one to change the world.