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Pesticide police are back for summer

Summer is here and so are the pesticide police.

Bylaw officers are on the lookout for lawn lawbreakers and guerilla gardeners using illegal pesticides to spruce up their grass. Weekend yard patrols are scheduled throughout the summer, according to a report presented to a city council committee Tuesday.

The target? Homeowners and landscapers spraying their lawn with products like Killex or Weed 'N' Feed—chemicals banned under the three-year-old pesticide use control bylaw.

According to the report, eagle-eyed bylaw officers combed the streets Saturday, May 26 and handed out "compliance instructions" to 27 residents and six landscaping firms, but no fines were issued.

The city is focusing on issuing information and warnings rather than fines, which are $100 for the first offence, $500 for the second and $1,000 for the third.

During the blitz, officers also found four landscapers conducting business in Richmond without a licence. They were handed fines.

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

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

Although the use of pesticides is banned for cosmetic reasons in Richmond, local retailers are still permitted to sell the chemicals.

In May, a provincial government committee recommended against a province-wide pesticide ban, despite Premier Christy Clark trumpeting the need for a ban during the Liberal leadership campaign.

The committee did suggest that retail sales should be treated similar to tobacco—kept out of sight and available only by request from someone with training in how to use the chemicals.

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