The City recognises dandelion control is an issue with many opinions in the community. This difference of views is because the primary method to manage dandelions is to spray pesticides within public parks. Many residents would like to see a complete ban on pesticide use while others would like to see all parks sprayed with pesticides. Municipalities across the globe are moving away from the application of pesticides for controlling dandelions and clover because of the potential human and animal health risks.
What is The City's policy about spraying dandelions?
Guidelines of the Cosmetic Pesticide Use Policy (pdf) include:
- pesticides containing neonicotinoids will not be used;
- Neighbourhood closes and green spaces in neighbourhoods are no longer sprayed;
- Performance sports fields and ball diamonds can be sprayed;
- Class “A” sports fields and ball diamonds can be sprayed (if they are at least 30 metres from a school or a playground); and
- Boulevards along arterial roadways can be sprayed.
Aside from areas listed above, no other turf areas are to be sprayed for cosmetic (nuisance) weeds. The areas not affected by the Policy include:
- The treatment of noxious and prohibited noxious weeds;
- Shrub bed weed control;
- Concrete and aggregate surface weed control; and
- Insect and rodent control.
How did the Cosmetic Pesticide Use Policy come to be?
In 2010, The Province of Alberta amended the Weed Control Act and Regulations to remove dandelions as a weed species which legislatively requires control.
The City's Parks department completed research into the risks of pesticides and brought the information forward to City Council in May, 2015.
At the meeting, City Council approved an Executive Limitation Policy for restricting where Parks will use pesticides on turf areas (spraying for dandelions). This policy is supported by Parks and compliments our past decisions on limiting herbicide use on turf areas in neighbourhoods, and on school/playground sites. In addition to this policy, The City continues to reduce per-acre pesticide use in accordance with the 2009 Environmental Master Plan.
City Council’s decision to enact a cosmetic use of pesticides policy was supported by Parks and was based on:
- Previous service levels and practices - This formal policy is reflective of previous service levels provided by Parks. The only changes within the policy are that neighbourhood closes can no longer be sprayed and that Class A Sports Fields can now be sprayed.
- Concerns over the risks of spraying pesticides:
- Pesticides contribute to Environmental damage and there is a growing amount of evidence that pesticides may contribute to human and animal health issues including links to cancer in animals.
- With over 5,100 acres of parkland, Parks cannot physically restrict people from accessing park sites, we can only post signs and this is not effective for children, pets, and wildlife.
- The cost of non-chemical controls is either not effective or very inefficient when managing large land masses.
- Enhancing the safety of sports field users.
- Allocating some pesticides to sports fields allows Parks the opportunity to manage some athlete safety and site playability issues.