Pesticide police hit streets Saturday

Bylaw officers will be on the lookout this weekend for lawn lawbreakers and guerilla gardeners.

The city has yet to hand out a fine under an 18-month-old bylaw banning the use of pesticides, but as warmer weather brings homeowners outdoors, the city is launching an educational and enforcement program.

Weather permitting, two officers will be deployed to local neighbourhoods on Saturdays to watch for the use of illegal pesticides and hand out brochures with information on the bylaw and natural alternatives.

A homeowner caught with a bottle of Killex or a landscaper found spreading Weed 'N' Feed will get a warning, said city spokesperson Kim Decker, who noted Richmond's 170 landscaping businesses have been made aware of the bylaw.

"If they found a landscaping company and they were in contradiction to the bylaw they get a warning. If they catch them again there would be enforcement."

Bylaw officers can issue fines of $100 for the first offence, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third.

Decker said it's important homeowners and strata corporations ensure their landscaping contractors are using only products permitted by the city.

City staff had considered testing residential lawns for illegal treatments, but so far haven't, focusing on education instead.

Although officials believe the use of pesticides has dropped off in Richmond, retailers are still permitted to sell the chemicals.

"We're serious about this bylaw, even though it's difficult to enforce," said Kim Decker, city spokesperson. "Cosmetic pesticides aren't acceptable in our city."

The bylaw applies to residential and city property, but excludes farms, golf courses and the inside buildings.

According to the city, pesticides come in many forms, including herbicides used for weeds, insecticides for insects and fungicides for fungal disease.

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