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How to choose a green space maintenance service

Updating: February 2014

Many people use landscaping services to maintain their lawns, trees and ornamental shrubs. These companies offer various sorts of treatments including plant fertilization and, if need be, pesticides. As a rule, these companies provide consumers with an agreed-upon upkeep plan. Here are a few things to consider when choosing and planning a rational and secure pesticide program.

Before any work begins

  • Ensure that your supplier holds a valid permit issued by the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques as well as a local permit if your municipality so requires
  • Discuss all aspects of regular upkeep required to keep your plants healthy with your maintenance provider. Ask for information about the methods they use for grass cutting, fertilization, aeration, etc.
  • Make sure that your supplier acts on the root causes of problems and not just on the presence of pests. It may be necessary to change maintenance methods or to select species or varieties of plants, trees or bushes that are better suited to your particular set of existing conditions
  • Require a written service contract that justifies and provides full details on the nature of work to be performed as well as which products will be used and their registration number. The registration number may be useful for medical or governmental stakeholders in case of problems after an application
  • Discuss alternatives to the use of pesticides. It is possible that pests may be controlled without the use of pesticides
  • Ensure that the supplier knows that your authorization is required before pesticides can be applied

During the season

  • Pesticides can only be applied by an individual who holds a certificate issued by the Ministère du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques or by someone who is supervised by a permit holder. Demand to see the certificate before authorizing any work to proceed
  • Certificate holders should be able to provide you with information about the products they intend to use and any precautions that are necessary for the protection of health and the environment
  • Ensure that your service provider rigorously follows the written maintenance program that was agreed upon between yourselves
  • It is important that the use of local and last resort pesticides be preferred, while selecting products that are the least harmful to the environment. You can find information on the relative toxicity of the main pesticides used for green spaces in one of the following documents:
  • Ensure that your supplier follows these rules when applying pesticides:
    • No one except for the individual applying the pesticide is to be present during application or exposed to the pesticide
    • All necessary measures must be taken to avoid contaminating surfaces or objects that are not supposed to be treated
    • Pets are not to be exposed to pesticides
    • All building openings that could lead to infiltration by the pesticide must be closed before work commences
  • Ensure that a sign stipulating that pesticides have been used, warning that contact with treated surfaces is prohibited for 24 hours, listing the plants that have been treated and the date and time of the application as well as the name and registration number of the pesticide used and the certificate number of the person responsible for the work, the name and initials of that person, is placed in full view

Regulatory sign to be displayed after pesticides have been applied to lawn, paved surfaces, trees or shrubs.

Nullification of a contract for green space maintenance work

Under the Pesticides Act, you are entitled to ask a court to nullify a contract for maintenance work on green spaces if:

  • The work was or is likely to be performed by an uncertified worker or not supervised by a person holding certification at the location where the work is performed;

  • The work was or is likely to be performed in non-compliance with the Pesticides Management Code.

Once a court nullifies a contract, you may receive compensation for any benefits you provided under it. Additionally, when you apply to a court for this reason, you are required to so inform the Ministère without delay.

Check the public register for the names of pesticide utilization permit or certificate holders.

If someone you know becomes ill from pesticides

Guide the person to a well-ventilated area and ask him/her to lie down on his/her side.

Then contact the Centre anti-poison du Québec, at 1 800 463-5060 (toll free telephone emergency, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) or in the Québec City area (local call) at (418) 656-8090, and follow their instructions to the letter. If the person’s condition appears serious, go to the hospital immediately, making sure to bring the label or the name of the product in question.

Health Canada collects reports of pesticide incident. A pesticide incident is a negative effect to humans, animals or the environment that can result from being exposed to a pesticide.

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