Sharra Hinton, co-owner of Weedman, fears that they will lose customers following the province's new ban on cosmetic pesticides.
Credits: BRIAN DONOGH/QMI AGENCY
Sharra Hinton, owner of Weed Man, said such a ban could damage the industry, as natural products yield poorer results.
"We will lose customers... Our customers' No. 1 concern is not having weeds on their lawn. They just want to fix that problem," Hinton said.
Lawn care companies and clients recently sent to government officials about 2,500 postcards opposing the ban.
Hinton believes some clients who wish to try non-chemical alternatives won't be able to afford them. She estimates the average lawn costs about $75 a season for traditional weed control but $300 to $400 with more natural alternatives.
Doug Chorney, president of the Keystone Agricultural Producers, said his group also opposes a ban because there are no viable and cost-effective options for farmers, whose crops can be badly damaged by weeds.
"Uncontrolled outbreaks of noxious weeds are a constant battle, and in our letter to the government we show that some noxious weeds could render a crop worthless," Chorney said.
But as the province wraps up public consultations on Oct. 1, Manitobans remain divided on the pesiticide issue. Environmentalists and medical professionals presented 1,000 signatures supporting the ban Monday, stating it's needed to protect our health.
Supporters insist no cost outweighs the health risk pesticides pose.
"Many studies link exposure to pesticides with negative health effects, especially for children, who are really susceptible," said Amanda Kinden, a member of Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba.
Kinden says it's clear from the weedless legislature grounds, which have been chemical-free for years, that natural products can be effective.
"The dandelion apocalypse won't befall us," she said.
Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh said a May 2012 Ontario compilation of more than 140 medical studies linked pesticides to several health risks, especially for children and pregnant women. The review linked pesticides to autism, asthma and lung disease for fetuses exposed in utero. The Canadian Cancer Society has also warned pesticide exposure may increase the risk of certain cancers.
Mackintosh said lawn care businesses have fared well in other Canadian jurisdictions where cosmetic pesticide bans are in place.
"We understand that in other jurisdictions that have a ban in place the customer base is stronger than ever," he said.
-- With files from Jordan Maxwell