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Pesticide Reduction

Pesticide Reduction

The District of Saanich has joined the growing trend for Canadian municipalities to raise awareness about the potential negative impacts of pesticide use in our communities.

On January 25, 2010 Council approved final reading and adopted the pesticide bylaw and Integrated Pest Management Policy for Saanich. This means that residential pesticide use will no longer be permitted for purely cosmetic purposes. Council also endorsed an education strategy to help residents understand the new bylaw, and provide information on alternatives to pesticide use. The effective date of the proposed Pesticide Bylaw is May 1, 2010."

What are pesticides?

Pesticide is a general term for any substance designed to prevent, destroy, repel, or mitigate injurious, noxious, or troublesome living organisms. The term “pesticide” encompasses the more specific terms such as insecticides (for insects), herbicides (for plants) and fungicides (for fungal diseases).

Why should we be concerned about using pesticides?

The risks associated with the use of pesticides include impacts to human health, non-target plants and animals (including pets), pollution of watercourses, and long-term contamination of soil and groundwater. Research has demonstrated links between pesticide exposure and several types of cancer, as well as hormone disruption. Young children are at greater risk from the effects of pesticides due to their undeveloped immune systems, more permeable skin, and behaviours (e.g. playing on lawns, putting objects in their mouths). The Canadian Cancer Society has documented a growing body of evidence showing a link between the use of pesticides and an increased risk of cancer.

Pesticide use contributes to the cumulative chemical impact on the natural environment. These chemicals are not easily confined to a single location, and as they move through the air, water, and land, there can be many unforeseen impacts to plants and animals throughout those ecosystems. The District of Saanich supports the “precautionary principle” regarding pesticides; being pro-active in reducing the possible threats to human health and the natural environment.

Saanich’s Approach To Pesticide Reduction


A study in 2004 found that the greatest success in reducing pesticide use came from jurisdictions that had both a bylaw and an educational program. In preparation for a potential bylaw, the CRD and municipalities, including Saanich, have focused their efforts on pesticide alternatives through the Pesticide Use Reduction Education Committee of the CRD Roundtable on the Environment. The centerpiece of the educational campaign is the pesticide-free pledge. The uptake by Saanich residents has been the highest in the CRD, accounting for 31% of all the pledges received.

The benefits of a regional approach to education includes the recognition that purchasing pesticides and the impacts associated with their use, crosses municipal boundaries. This program focuses on pesticide alternatives for lawn care and the benefits of reducing lawn areas all together, which in turn ties in with reduced water consumption, reduced fertilizer use, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating the need for mowing.

Click on “resources” and “alternatives to pesticides” for more information

The Bylaw

The bylaw (adopted January 25, 2010) regulates that no person may apply or otherwise use pesticides for the purpose of maintaining outdoor trees, shrubs, flowers, other ornamental plants, and turf on private land or public land. Public land includes land owned by the municipality and private land means land used for residential purposes.  There are exemptions to this bylaw as well as the potential to obtain a permit.

View the bylaw in its entirety


There are three main areas of exemptions.  First, the use of permitted pesticides, as listed in Schedule A to the bylaw, is not restricted.  Generally, permitted pesticides include:

  • acetic acid (vinegar in products like EcoClear as herbicides);
  • corn gluten meal (acts as a natural herbicide used in turf weeds);
  • methoprene (an insect growth regulator);
  • botanically derived pesticides such as pyrethrins and rotenone;
  • insect bait stations and pheromones;
  • insecticidal or herbicidal soaps;
  • mineral oils; and
  • sulphurs, ferrous sulphate (moss killer).

Please refer to the schedule of permitted pesticides for specific information.

Traditional products containing synthetic chemicals including glyphosate (as found in products such as Roundup, Sidekick, and many others), 2,4-D (such as Weed n’ Feed, Killex, etc.), Malathion, Carbaryl (such as Sevin), and Diazinon are some of the more common pesticides that are not permitted for general use.  Note that the example product names given are only a sample of popular brands.  Residents should check products for their ingredients or chemical content.

Second, the bylaw does not apply to the use of pesticides needed to manage pests that:

  • transmit human diseases;
  • have an impact on agriculture or forestry;
  • are on or inside buildings;
  • are on a parcel of land that is used solely for commercial (such as golf courses), institutional, or industrial purposes;
  • are on residential areas of farms. 

Third, the proposed bylaw authorizes the District of Saanich to apply pesticides on public land owned or held by the District of Saanich, provided that the Integrated Pest Management Policy (03/166) is followed.

Pesticide Permits

A person may apply to the Manager Of Environmental Services for a permit for the use of pesticides that are not on the permitted pesticide list (Schedule A) for the following reasons:

  • the pest infestation threatens the integrity of sensitive ecosystems; or
  • the pest infestation poses a serious economic loss to an owner or occupier of land; or
  • to control the spread of invasive species or noxious weeds.

Please note that the control of broadleaf weeds (such as dandelions) would generally not meet the above conditions.

In addition, the following criteria must be met:

  • the use of the pesticide must be permissible under the Integrated Pest Management Act; and
  • the use of the pesticide must be shown to be ‘the last resort’ following the principles of Integrated Pest Management; and
  • the person applying the pesticides must be a certified pesticide applicator.

Permit Process

Permits are administered by the Manager of Environmental Services. There is no fee for applying.  The applicant is encouraged to have Integrated Pest Management accreditation.

Conditions for the application of pesticides and requirements for posting signs are part of the permit and bylaw requirements. 

The application consists of form 1 and form 2.  If there is more than one owner of the property, the owner’s authorization form must be filled out.  Please bring your application to the Planning Department.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Using an integrated approach to managing potential problems is something that can be done on a small scale, such as around the home, or on a larger municipal level. For example, Saanich has followed an Integrated Pest Management Policy (IPM) since 1994 which has resulted in a 95% reduction in pesticide use on Saanich lands. For more information on Saanich’s IPM policy, click here.

The process of suppressing pest populations in an effective, economical, and environmentally sound way using an organized program of pest management techniques is referred to as integrated pest management or IPM. One of the key ideas in IPM is that pest control measures are only needed when their numbers warrant this action. Experience has shown that IPM programs are more successful and cost-effective than other methods of pest control, and pesticide use is greatly reduced. For a fact sheet on Integrated Pest Management, click here.

Saanich Takes the Pledge

On June 2, 2008 the District of Saanich took the pledge to go Pesticide Free at several locations; eliminating the use of synthetic pesticides on the grounds at Municipal Hall and other areas such as recreation centers, and many boulevard flower displays. Follow the link to learn more about Saanich’s commitment to the Pesticide Free Pledge and click on the sign to take the pledge yourself.

Alternatives to pesticides

Pesticide Resources & Links

What are the alternatives?

Prior to the 1940s, synthetic pesticides did not exist, and people used preventative measures to cultivate healthy and safe landscapes. Many of those time-tested methods are still appropriate today. Pesticide alternatives generally involve cultural, biological and/or mechanical methods to control unwanted organisms.

Cultural Control

Use gardening techniques that encourage vigorous plant growth and discourage pests.

Choose pest-resistant plants for your garden. There are many beautiful native plants in our area that provide habitat for wildlife, and are naturally resistant to local pests.

Plant a variety of species and rotate crops regularly. Try companion-planting as natural pest deterrence (e.g. marigolds will deter a variety of insects).

Manage soil fertility, watering, and drainage in your yard and garden to provide optimal growing conditions for your plants. Healthy plants are naturally more resistant to pests.

Biological Control

Living organisms such as predatory (e.g. ladybugs for aphid control) and parasitic insects, and beneficial nematodes can be used to control unwanted garden pests. Contact your local plant nursery for more information.

Protect and attract beneficial insects, birds, and bats into your garden by planting native plants and installing bird nesting boxes and bat houses (2.25MB PDF) in your yard.

Mechanical Control

Reduce pest habitat in your yard by removing debris, pots, boards, and other objects where slugs and snails like to hide. Create barriers to these molluscs with crushed eggshells, oyster shells and other prickly material. Remove insects on plants by hand-crushing, or using a forceful spray of water. Reduce weed growth by mulching between plants or spreading cardboard or layers of newspaper between rows in the garden.

Cloth crop covers (floating row covers) are another effective means of keeping pests away from plants, while still allowing light and moisture through.

Hand-pulling of weeds, preferably before they go to seed, is an effective and safe method of control. Large persistent weeds such as thistles can also be killed by pouring boiling water on the cut stalks.

Avoid watering your garden with an overhead sprinkler in the evening – this is a major cause of mildew on sensitive plants.

Natural Pest Control Products

There are several insecticidal soaps available commercially that can be safely sprayed on plants to control harmful insects. Alternatively, fungicides can be made at home from natural substances, and used to control black spot on roses, blight on tomatoes, and mildew and rusts on other plants. Here are a couple of examples:

  • 1 tablespoon each of baking soda and horticultural oil diluted in 4 litres of water; spray on leaves.
  • Use a 50/50 mixture of milk and water and thoroughly spray plants every 3 to 4 days at first sign of mildew, or use weekly as a preventative measure.

How To Dispose Of Pesticides

Free Pesticide Drop-off Locations

There is no charge for dropping off leftover pesticides at the following depots:

Hartland Landfill
Ellice Recycling
Hartland Landfill Website Ellice Recycling Website
#1 Hartland Avenue, access from West Saanich Rd
Tel: 250-360-3030
524 David Street
Tel: 250-386-4342
Monday - Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday 7am-2pm
Monday - Friday 7:30am - 5pm
Saturday/Sunday 8:30am - 5pm

What NOT to do

  • Never flush pesticides down your toilet, sink, or drain or pour them down storm drains. These chemicals harm septic systems and contaminate the natural environment.
  • Do not put pesticides into the garbage, or bury them. Chemicals will eventually leach out of the landfill, or your backyard, and contaminate the natural environment.

Last modified: January 21, 2016