While Calgarians often lament the war on weeds in the summer, some in the southeast community of Copperfield are just dealing with grass.
Knee-high grass. On city boulevards.
The situation began simmering last week when a Copperfield Facebook post garnered dozens of responses to pictures showing grass on city property along McIvor Blvd SE that was a foot high in some places and even higher in others.
Copperfield resident Scott McKay said the situation is a blight on the community.
“When you think of Copperfield, this lush imagery comes to your mind’s eye, not knee-high weeds and grass all through the public spaces,” he said.
“The city won’t mow it and it doesn’t allow the residents to even try to improve it themselves – it seems like a double standard to me.”
The double standard McKay is referring to is the Community Standards bylaw that states grass length on residential property is not to exceed 15 centimetres in length.
City of Calgary Roads Maintenance manager Bill Biensch agreed that it may appear like a double standard, but city property, like these boulevards, is exempt.
Biensch said that a service reduction voted on by city council trimmed the number of passes equipment would do on area boulevards – from five down to four. He also noted that city mowing is split between roads (who handle major routes) and city parks, who handle the green spaces.
“One thing with boulevard grass is, in the spring you have this huge growth,” Biensch said.
Consequently, he’s instructed the contractors that as soon as pass one is complete
that they begin pass two immediately. At the time of the conversation, Biensch said crews had completed 85 per cent of that first maintenance pass, though not the Copperfield area.
Later, he did confirm that the Copperfield area was slated to be mowed this week.
Ward 12 Coun. Shane Keating said he did receive a handful of calls from area homeowners on the McIvor Blvd grass issue and he had spoken with the city roads department on it.
Keating said the extended winter, wet spring and then hot stretch of weather likely contributed to putting crews behind. He added that often times the crews that are doing the snow maintenance, or the street sweeping, are the groups that do the mowing maintenance in the summer – for efficiency purposes.
Still, he said the city should be prepared for situations like this where a certain standard should be upheld.
“I’ve said this before… like with the snow. It’s fine to have a set pattern, but when you have a unique situation then you have to change your patterns,” he said.
“There should be some sort of funding mechanism that kicks in that allows you to change your pattern or allows you to assess a different solution for the situation.”
Keating suggested a reserve fund be set up to handle such emergent situations.
In the meantime, Biensch said Calgary communities can enter into an enhanced agreement with the city to provide these upgraded services.
There was conversation to that effect on the Copperfield group’s Facebook page and, for his part, McKay said he’d be willing to pay the additional community fees to prevent this sort of thing from getting out of control.