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News

Montreal drives for greener golf courses by banning most pesticides

Published: 13 June 2024

Montreal will become the first jurisdiction in Canada to legislate and regulate on golf course pesticide use after a decision to ban most pesticides at golf courses across the city starting next year. Following a successful 2-year pilot project, the ban aims to encourage the use of low-toxicity alternatives to protect biodiversity and human health. Golf courses, which were previously exempt from certain pesticide restrictions, will face fines for non-compliance.

David Wees, a faculty lecturer in McGill University's Farm Management and Technology Program, teaches courses on urban agriculture and pesticide use. He told CBC News that municipalities are increasingly beefing up regulations surrounding pesticides, often surpassing federal rules.

Wees said 2,4-D is toxic to wildlife and humans, and is commonly banned by municipal authorities. There are some worries about Mecoprop as well, he said. Chlorothalonil is often used on vegetables, he said, but also on golf courses to protect turf grass from diseases.

Wees said there are ways to reduce diseases with fungicides like chlorothalonil by, for example, limiting fertilizer and watering. But, he added, golfers want lush green golf courses, which are created with a lot of fertilizer and watering.

He said there are already a fair amount of rules surrounding the use of pesticides on golf courses, and it is highly controlled, but more could be done to reduce toxicity. He said there are viable alternatives to the more toxic chemicals.

"That's what we basically need to do — check our choices and always choose the least toxic one," said Wees.

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