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Noxious Weeds

The Weed Control Act was originally drafted by provincial legislators in the late 1800's to achieve control of noxious weeds that interfere with land used for industries of agriculture and horticulture.

The Act continues today, and by regulation, twenty-five (25) weeds in Ontario have been designated as noxious weeds.  In addition to the above-noted provincially-designated noxious weeds; in 2013 the Township of Wainfleet designated “diseased fruit trees” as a local noxious weed pursuant to the Act in response to community concerns regarding the spread of fruit tree diseases and their impact on agricultural/horticultural operations.

Under section 3 of the Weed Control Act, every person in possession of land is required to destroy all noxious weeds on their land.


Notwithstanding section 3 of the Act, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (the ministry responsible for provincial administration of the Act) interprets the intent of the Weed Control Act as follows:

  1. To reduce the infestation of noxious weeds that impact on the industries of agriculture and horticulture.
  2. To reduce plant diseases by eliminating plant disease hosts such as common barberry and European buckthorn.
  3. To reduce health hazards to livestock caused by poisonous plants.

In practical terms, this interpretation means that in most instances the Act will not be enforced in areas where an agricultural or horticultural operation is not likely to be affected by the noxious weeds.  Also, section 22 of the Act allows the Weed Inspector to exercise considerable judgement when enforcing the Act.  It provides that noxious weeds or weed seeds that are far enough away from any land used for agricultural or horticultural purposes that they do not interfere with that use do not have to be destroyed.

Destroying Noxious Weeds

Noxious weeds can be destroyed by:

  1. Pulling/removing plants from soil,
  2. Cutting roots or stalks of plants before seeds have developed enough to ripen after cutting,
  3. Plowing or cultivating the soil the plants are growing in,
  4. Treating plants with a herbicide that destroys them or prevents their growth/seed ripening.

The Township of Wainfleet encourages the methods of (a), (b) or (c) to control noxious weeds.

However - please note that some weeds may pose a health risk to humans.  For example, weeds such as Giant Hogweed and Wild Parsnip have plant sap that may cause skin and eye irritation and make the skin prone to severe burning and blistering when exposed to the sun.  In some cases, this can result in long-term scarring of the skin.  When such weeds are declared to be noxious, herbicides may be utilitized as a control method - the use of herbicides for control of noxious weeds is not considered a cosmetic use of pesticides.  Further information regarding Ontario's Cosmetic Pesticides Ban is available on the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOECP) website.


As required by the Weed Control Act, the Township has appointed a Weed Inspector to undertake the administration and enforcement of the Act in Wainfleet.  Under the Act, the Weed Inspector is empowered to inspect lands and issue written orders for the destruction of noxious weeds and weed seeds on all or part of any lot shown on a registered plan of subdivision and on lots not exceeding 10 acres that are not shown on such a plan.  Lots larger than 10 acres in size are still subject to the requirements of the Act – but enforcement is administered by an Area Weed Inspector appointed by the Regional Municipality of Niagara (or a Provincial Inspector).

Enforcement of the Weed Control Act is conducted on a complaint basis.  If you find a noxious weed that is impacting agricultural/horticultural land, you can file a complaint with the Township Weed Inspector.

Additional Resources