Exceptions to the ban

By law, you can only use certain pesticides for cosmetic purposes to kill weeds and insects on certain areas such as lawns and gardens.

Ontario’s ban on the cosmetic use of pesticides provides an exception for golf courses, if certain conditions are met.

Golf courses are defined as areas used or intended to be used as playing surfaces including:

  • tees
  • fairways
  • greens
  • rough

Mini-golf and mini-putt courses are not considered golf courses.

Source law

You can find a complete set of provincial rules related to this activity in:

The Allowable List

Anyone can use a pesticide product without conditions if all its active ingredients are found on the List of Active Ingredients Authorized for Cosmetic Uses (Allowable List).

These products can be used on playing, and non-playing, areas of the golf course to manage:

  • weeds
  • insects
  • plant diseases

Pesticides that contain active ingredients that are not on the Allowable List are referred to as "unlisted pesticides."

Using unlisted pesticides on a golf course

In order to use unlisted pesticides, golf courses must:

  • be registered by an approved Integrated Pest Management (IPM) body, the first day unlisted pesticides are used on the golf course
  • receive accreditation by a ministry-approved IPM body by the second anniversary of the first day unlisted pesticides are used on the golf course
  • prepare an annual report on unlisted pesticide use and post it on the IPM Council of Canada’s website

Unlisted pesticides must not be used on non-playing areas associated with a golf course, such as:

  • lawns
  • driveways
  • paths
  • patios
  • trees
  • shrubs
  • ornamental plantings
  • gardens

Notice and warning signs

You must use certain warning signs to notify golfers of pesticide use on playing surfaces.

When using an unlisted pesticide, you must post a non-residential area notice sign (Sign F).

When using a pesticide with only active ingredients from the Allowable List, you must post a non-residential area notice sign (Sign E).

Download: pesticide use notice and warning signs

Annual report

The owner or operator of the golf course is required to prepare an annual report summarizing all unlisted pesticide use on the golf course.

The report must include:

  • the name of each active ingredient used
  • the quantity in kilograms of each active ingredient used
  • the reason for using each active ingredient
  • a map or plan of the golf course showing all application areas
  • an explanation of any differences in the pesticides used or quantity used from the most recently prepared annual report
  • how you used IPM principles and how it minimized the use of pesticide ingredients
  • how you plan to use IPM principles to minimize the use during the next calendar year
  • the name, contact information, IPM registration and signature of the golf course’s IPM agent
  • confirmation by the owner or a representative of the owner of the golf course that the report is complete
  • any other relevant information on pesticide use asked for by the Director

The most recently prepared annual report must be made publicly available and a copy must be provided to the public on request, free of charge.

Annual reports must be prepared before January 31 and:

  • kept at the head office for a period of five years
  • posted on a website approved by the Director for at least five years
  • be given to a provincial officer or the Director upon request
  • be given to any person, free of charge, within seven days of the request
  • kept on the golf course property for at least one year and be displayed in a prominent place to allow access by the club members, guests and the public

Learn more: IPM Council of Canada

Report the misuse of pesticides

If you believe someone is not following the rules or is using a banned pesticide, please contact a Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks district office during regular business hours.

After business hours, please contact the Pollution Hotline at 1-866-MOE-TIPS (1-866-663-8477).