Turf Manager’s Guide to new IPM Regulations

12.05.17-BC.house.of.parliamentWith the new BC IPM regulation (IPMR) coming into effect July 1, 2016, here’s a guide on how to ensure compliance at your facility (in case you missed the deadline) and a brief history of how we arrived at this point.  Understanding it’s an incredibly busy time of year for turf managers, Ministry staff have told us their focus is more on the education and licencing process than on enforcement but it’s important licencing requirements are met as soon as possible.

Key Points – After July 1, 2016:
• A licence is required to apply most pesticides to landscaped areas on private land.
• You have choices when managing pests. You can hire a licensed company, obtain a licence or use a product that does not require a licence.
• Businesses must have certified staff to obtain a licence. Licensees must use IPM, follow environmental protection requirements and keep records.
• Everyone who applies pesticides must be certified or complete specific training.
• You must post signs when treating landscaped areas on private land that the public may be expected to access.
• You must comply with relevant municipal pesticide bylaws.
• The new requirements come into force July 1, 2016.

FAST TRACKYour facility now needs a licence to legally apply pesticides.  Simply download the licence form at the end of this article, fill out and submit to the Ministry of Environment.  Both golf course and sportsfield turf managers require the ‘pesticide user non-service licence’.  You will also need to have an IPM program in place and comply with the licencing rules, more on that below.

Heads up #1 – licencing and certification are two different things.  A licence is for the facility, a certificate is for an individual.  To get a licence, you must have a certified applicator in your employ.  Both are now required to legally apply pesticides on commercial private property in British Columbia.

Why the changes? 
Pesticide use became a controversial issue with the publication of Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring in 1962.  Today, there is a wide diversity of opinion about the impact of pesticide use on human health and the natural environment. Generally, governments in Canada promote reduced reliance on pesticides, while some health and environmental organizations advocate outright bans, believing that pesticides can have serious consequences for human health and the natural environment.

In the August 25, 2009 Speech from the Throne, the provincial government committed to consult with British Columbians on, “new statutory protections to further safeguard our environment from cosmetic chemical pesticides.”

Between 2009 and 2011, three Public Bills in the hands of Private Members of the Legislative Assembly proposed a ban on the sale and cosmetic use of pesticides. In each case, the Bill did not proceed beyond first reading in the session it was introduced.

On May 4, 2011, Premier Christy Clark publically expressed an intention to proceed with legislation that would circumscribe the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes. The Premier also indicated her intent to engage with all interested parties, including the public and the opposition, in a consultative and bi-partisan manner.

On June 2, 2011, a special committee of the Legislative Assembly was appointed and asked by the House to examine the elimination of the unnecessary use of pesticides in the province. The creation of the Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides represented the first time an all-party parliamentary committee has been used at the provincial level to conduct consultations on this topic.  Most of the provinces that have already implemented bans chose the option of a ministry-led consultation, usually in the form of a discussion paper.

On May 17, 2012, after 10 months, 27 witness testimonies (which included the WCTA and AGA-BC), a record number of submissions for any parliamentary committee, a 108 page report was released that identified 17 separate recommendations for improvements to the provincial pesticide regulatory framework.  You can download the full report at the end of this article.

The changes ensure that pesticides used in outdoor landscaped areas are applied by trained people as part of an IPM program, or are pesticides generally considered safe for use by untrained people.

How do the new regs affect me? 
The Ministry intends that the use of most pesticides in private landscaped areas will require either a certificate (for residents), or a licence (for commercial properties and service providers). This includes use on lawns, flower beds, and ornamental trees and shrubs – on such properties as single family homes, golf courses, botanical gardens and cemeteries.

For years, municipal and school district sportsfield managers have dealt with a higher degree of pesticide regulation than their golf counterparts because fields and parks are almost always located on public land.  Changes on the municipal side are therefore minimal.

For golf courses, private land is now included in the regulation and a ‘pesticide user non-service licence’ is required in order to use pesticides legally.  The licence fee is $250 annually and the list of requirements includes:

• maintaining a business address in British Columbia for doing business in the province;
• employing certified applicator(s);
• adhering to relevant environmental protection measures;
• implementing an IPM program when managing pests;
• notifying users of their property when pesticide application occurs; and
• annual reporting of pesticide use to MOE.

Note that the changes to the IPMR do not override municipal bylaws. If a municipality you are working in has restrictions on the landscape use of pesticides, they must be followed.

Heads up #2Commercial property owners (aka golf courses), will also have choices when managing pests in their private landscapes. They will be able to hire a licensed company to provide the service, obtain a pesticide user licence so that their staff may apply pesticides or use  a pesticide listed in either Schedule 2 or 5 (so called ‘white-list’ considered low toxicity).

Employing certified and assistant applicators
Employing a certified applicator in the landscape category is a licence requirement. 
• To be eligible for a pesticide applicator certificate in BC, a person must be at least 16 years of age and have successfully passed the appropriate BC examination. The certification examination is based on a syllabus set out in the Regulation. 
• A certified applicator can still supervise up to four uncertified individuals.
• Uncertified assistants are now required to complete specific training to ensure they can safely apply pesticides.  Licensees must use the Ministry’s online course and exam to meet this requirement. The course and exam will be offered free of charge.
• Assistant applicators must refresh their training annually.
• Licensees and certified applicators acting as supervisors are responsible for confirming that assistant applicators have completed the course.
• Licensees are responsible for documenting completion of the course by assistant applicators.

Adhering to relevant environmental protection measures
The Integrated Pest Management Act and Regulation establish conditions for the sale and use of pesticides.  Under the IPM Act, a person must not “use a pesticide that causes or is likely to cause, or use, handle, release, transport, store, dispose of, or sell a pesticide in a manner that causes or is likely to cause an unreasonable adverse effect.” This general prohibition, in concert with use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), underpins the Ministry’s approach to regulation of pesticide use in British Columbia

All licence holders (licensees) are required to ensure compliance with standards for the use of integrated pest management and the protection of human health and the environment, as specified in the Act and Regulation.

Implementing an IPM program when managing pests
Because it requires a proactive and preventative approach, IPM reduces reliance on pesticides and can lead to a reduction in their use. The Act and Regulation require the use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for pesticide use on public land; on private land used for forestry, transportation, public utilities and pipelines; on private commercial land for the purposes of landscaping; and for pest control service companies (including service companies managing landscape, structural, forestry, noxious weed or mosquito pests).

The Act defines IPM as “a process for managing pest populations that includes the following elements:
a. Planning and managing ecosystems to prevent organisms from becoming pests;
b. Identifying pest problems and potential pest problems;
c. Monitoring populations of pests and beneficial organisms, damage caused by pests and environmental conditions;
d. Using injury thresholds in making treatment decisions;
e. Suppressing pest populations to acceptable levels using strategies based on considerations of:
     • Biological, physical, cultural, mechanical, behavioural and chemical controls in appropriate combinations,
     • Environmental and human health protection; and
f. Evaluating the effectiveness of pest management treatments.”

Businesses on private land will also be required to provide notice when applying pesticides to landscaped areas the public is expected to access. This would include areas such as pathways, lawns, picnic areas and fairways. Types of businesses on private land that will be affected include golf courses, ornamental gardens, cemeteries and commercial facilities.

The notification will have to be posted on signs and be clearly visible to those approaching the area. It will include: the date and time of application; the pesticide that was applied; the area to which the pesticide was applied; contact information for those who applied the pesticide; and any safety precautions the public should know. These requirements will be the same as current notification requirements for pesticide use on public land.

Annual reporting
The annual pesticide use report must be submitted to the Ministry prior to January 31st of each year.  The report is to include all non-excluded class pesticides used over the last calendar year. 

The most common mistake in completing these records is writing down the wrong P.C.P. Act registration number.  The only acceptable units for reporting quantities used are kilograms of product.  Note that in the landscape category, size of area treated does not need to be recorded.

A licence or certificate will not be required by property owners to use pesticides on private land for:
• Food gardens and hobby farms;
• Pesticide use inside structures or in outside areas to control structural pests (e.g., rats, carpenter ants, wasps);
• Forests on private land that are not managed for timber production; or
• Areas used for commercial agriculture (e.g., range pasture, field crops).

There will be certain situations where residents and commercial operators (e.g., golf course managers and gardeners at botanical gardens or cemeteries) may use Domestic class formulations of the pesticide glyphosate on their own property without a certificate or licence. These include the treatment of:
• Weeds growing through cracks in hard surfaces such as driveways, sidewalks, paths, etc.;
• Plants that are poisonous to humans by touch (e.g., poison ivy or poison oak); and
• Classified noxious weeds or invasive plants.

Schedules 2 & 5
Schedule 2 is an existing list of pesticides that are excluded from certain requirements in the IPMR. There are several reasons why a pesticide may be listed in Schedule 2, such as it is regulated in other ways or only used in very specific circumstances by highly trained individuals.

Schedule 5 is a new list of Domestic class pesticides that are considered safe to use without additional training.  You do not require a licence to use Schedule 2 or 5 pesticides on your own land.  In addition, a licence is not required to offer a service using Schedule 2 pesticides. However, a licence is required to offer a service applying pesticides listed on Schedule 5.

Additional resources
Licence form (PDF fillable)
Policy update regarding amendments to the Integrated Pest Management Regulation – June, 2015
Integrated Pest Management Act and Regulation Summary document
Pesticide Regulations and Consultations Guide for Golf Courses, Gardens & Cemeteries
Landscape Sector Review paper
Assistant Applicator Training website
Sample IPM Program for Golf Courses (courtesy SunPeaks Resort) - email Keith Lyall at klyall@sunpeaksresort.com
Pesticide Schedule 2
Pesticide Schedule 5
Annual Report on Pesticide Use Form
Full report from Special Committee on Cosmetic Pesticides

For more information, please contact:
Ministry of Environment – Integrated Pest Management Program, at:
Email: IPMProgram@gov.bc.ca 
Mail: c/o PO Box 28159 Westshore RPO Victoria, BC V9B 6K8