Proposed changes to pesticide law could leave lawn care businesses scrambling

Published March 14, 2022 9:55 p.m. ET

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A new bill proposing the end of a ban on cosmetic pesticides on lawns is being welcomed by one Winnipeg lawn care business owner, but could leave him scrambling if the province rushes the bill.

In the Legislature Monday, the provincial PC government introduced amendments that would allow the use of Health Canada-approved pesticides, and end the ban on cosmetic pesticides for private lawns, grassy areas near roadways and some municipal fields and parks.

READ MORE: Manitoba bill would allow cosmetic pesticides on lawns, municipal boulevards

"We're quite happy to hear it," said Tim Muys, owner of Green Blade Lawn Care.

It is news that has been a long time coming for Muys.

In 2014 the previous NDP government brought in a ban, forcing lawn companies to stop using certain chemicals and switch to eco-friendly products.

"Stakeholders and members of the public raised several concerns regarding the original legislation including increased costs, increased usage of pesticides due to the lack of effectiveness of current products on the market," Jeff Wharton, Minister of Environment, Climate and Parks Minister, said on Monday.

The ban forced lawn companies to stop using weed control chemicals such as Par III, and switch to Fiesta – a far more expensive and less effective eco-friendly product.

The bill is currently going through first reading, with the goal of having the changes in place this season. It is a timeline that Muys said would leave some lawn care services scrambling. He said his company has already delivered stacks of flyers and thousands of customers have already booked their lawn care services.

"Not to mention, most importantly, we've already ordered literally tens and tens and tens of thousands of dollars worth of Fiesta that we somehow have to use now," he said, adding he would like to see the proposed changes come into effect in the spring of next year.

"It's a little too quick, (it) doesn't allow us to make the appropriate changes, and it's going to make a mess of things."

Muys said even if the changes do go through, Green Blade Lawn Care will continue to offer Fiesta to customers who prefer it.

WHY IS THE TERM PESTICIDE USED?

Muys said people should note, the legislation uses the term pesticide – a word which encompasses all pesticides.

"It's a very big broad umbrella term," he said. "When we say pesticide, what we mean is herbicides, rodenticides, fungicide, algaecide – basically any kind of chemical that we use to control any kind of pest anywhere."

Muys said the product being discussed in the proposed changes to the provincial legislation is called a herbicide, but falls under the umbrella term of pesticide.

-with files from CTV's Jon Hendricks 


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