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City studying use of cosmetic pesticides after province loosens restrictions

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The City of Winnipeg is exploring the pros and cons of using cosmetic pesticides once banned by the province.

Earlier this month, the Stefanson government loosened restrictions around the use of pesticides with certain chemicals.

Since 2014, Manitoba cities, homeowners and lawn care companies had to turn to products which were more eco-friendly. Some in the industry have said they don’t work as well and are more expensive.

The city’s community services committee has ordered a report due in four months on phasing in their use on city parks and boulevards for 2023.

The study will also look at costs, the science behind all of this, what other jurisdictions are doing and the potential for buffer zones.

This comes after a motion sponsored by North Kildonan City Councillor Jeff Browaty for the city to use these pesticides.

“I'm hearing from a lot of people, ‘why can't we do dandelion control?’” Browaty said

Browaty calls the weeds an eyesore, and says while homeowners take pride in their yards, the city should do the same with boulevards and parks.

"There are residents who have allergies, times of the year where dandelions go from the yellow to the white,” he said.

However, there is opposition to the use of cosmetic pesticides.

A handful of delegates addressed the committee over their concerns the pesticides are harmful to the environment and people.

Marg Friesen from the Environmental Health Association of Manitoba says the chemicals can have short and long-term impacts.

"If this is brought forward, then it's going to be a huge step back. Some of the immediate results actually make people sick,” Friesen said.

Daniel McIntyre City Councillor Cindy Gilroy told the committee not to bother with the report at all. She says the city should find a more eco-friendly solution to deal with noxious weeds.

“I know that these are annoying to some people, but introducing chemicals is not the answer,” she said.

Browaty argues the pesticides in question are approved by Health Canada for use.

Committee chair John Orlikow suggests the report could settle the debate.

"Do we want to have kids running around with herbicides all over the field or can we live with the dandelions?” he asked. “Let’s find out. I think a report will provide a healthier debate rather than more of an emotional debate."

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