A local man concerned about the use of pesticides around the Cotton Mills district recently took matters into his own hands and was able to stop their use.
Francis Charette lives in the Cotton Mills condos and noticed in April a lawn maintenance company was regularly spraying along Cotton Mill Street. Charette said he approached the workers to ask what they were spraying and was told it was a product like RoundUp, a non-selective weed killer. The spray was being used to avoid having to manually remove the weeds.
“I initially expressed concern with the toxicity of the chemicals,” said Charette. “I felt they should put a sign up when they spray so dog walkers, pedestrians and children don’t walk on the sprayed grass.”
Charette said he was told it wasn’t too bad because the toxic chemicals evaporate within three to four days. Charette said he noticed the sprayers came back a few more times and still no signs were put up. That was when he decided to do a little bit of homework. Charette discovered the city does not have a bylaw on the use of pesticides, but the Pesticide Act of Ontario supersedes any municipal bylaw. The act is thorough and one of the toughest in North America, said Charette.
Charette then contacted the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and reported the use of the pesticides.
The Pesticide Act states no person shall use a pesticide unless it is classified as a class one through seven pesticide, however an ingredient in a RoundUp type of pesticide contains glyphosate, making it a class nine pesticide. Class nine pesticides cannot be used for esthetic purposes.
“I want to bring awareness to residents and workers in the Cotton Mill district that these companies are using pesticides in an illegal manner,” said Charette. “I want them to change their business practice by respecting the legislation and respecting health and well-being of the community where they have chosen to conduct their business.”
A call to the local office of the MOECC resulted in an email from Gary Wheeler stating, “ministry staff are aware of concerns and are assessing the situation to ensure that provincial regulations are adhered to.”
The owner of the lawn maintenance company confirmed they have stopped using the pesticide in question.