Ottawa

Banned pesticides found on flowers in Ottawa stores, environmental group says

An Ottawa environmental group says it has found traces of harmful and banned pesticides on plants sold at major garden centres in the city, and has asked the provincial government to investigate.

Friends of the Earth Canada says pesticide-laden flowers found at Canadian Tire, Rona, Home Depot

Friends of the Earth Canada says that flowers bought at Rona, Canadian Tire and Home Depot in 2017 had traces of 'cosmetic pesticides,' which are illegal to use under the Ontario Pesticides Act. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

An Ottawa environmental group says it's found traces of harmful and banned pesticides on plants sold at garden centres in the city, and it's asked the provincial government to investigate. 

Friends of the Earth Canada says that flowers bought at Rona, Canadian Tire and Home Depot in 2017 had traces of "cosmetic pesticides," which are illegal to use under the Ontario Pesticides Act because of the harm to both humans and the environment. 

Last year the group purchased several common types of flowers from five major stores and sent samples to the University of Guelph to investigate whether they contained neonicotinoids, a pesticide said to be harmful to bees.

Its use is restricted but not illegal in Ontario.

But what the group found was even more troubling, said chief executive officer Beatrice Olivastri.

"What we found [were] banned cosmetic pesticides, which was amazing and shocking," Olivastri told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning. "These are pesticides banned nine years ago in Ontario."

"They are harmful to the health of people, especially young children [and] even pets and, in some cases, bees," she added.

'It's very worrisome' 

Olivastri said it's possible that the stores weren't aware their vendors were using the chemicals.

Even so, garden centres are still responsible for ensuring that plants with traces of illegal pesticides aren't sold, she stressed.

"I believe we have accomplished our first interest, which is to flag for the companies who sell in garden centres that they need to be looking at what's in their flowers [and] what's coming to them from their suppliers," Olivastri said.

"It's very worrisome."

Stores respond

A spokesperson for Home Depot told Ottawa Morning that all their plants and vendors follow provincial and federal regulations on pesticide use. 

Rona's parent company, Lowe's Canada, said it was concerned by the findings and is looking into the issue.

As of Sunday evening, Canadian Tire had not responded to Ottawa Morning's request for comment. 

Friends of the Earth has now submitted a request to Ontario's Environmental Commissioner asking for an investigation to be conducted by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

The province will have 60 days to decide if it will launch an investigation after receiving the application from the commissioner.

now