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Montrose Park

Filed in:Informative

Montrose Park

June 5th, 2006  · stk

The Seedy Side of the Park

It's the start of summer, with plenty of sunshine and intermittent rains, vegetation is flourishing. In order to keep up with the growth, I'm having to mow our lawn (at least once a week), tug on weeds and dig out dandelions. On the plus side, we're enjoying the weather and being outside. We're taking bicycle rides, pulling Alex in her buggy and pedaling along the River Valley. I normally don't pay much attention to the upkeep of our local parks, but today, I have.

Edmonton is a city of parks, boasting over 460 and the 48-kilometer River Valley Parkway, is the largest expanse of urban parkland in North America. But my focus today, is on our small, neighborhood park, Montrose.

We walk Alex through this park, every morning, taking her to day-care and again, every afternoon on our way home. We often stop and play, as Alex loves to ride in the swing and slide down the large, spiral slide. It's always been a nice place to hang out, but it's changed this year and I put my finger on why, this morning: Maintenance has lapsed. There's more trash in the park this year, than last. It's only been mowed twice this season and there is an unsightly profusion of dandelions. Crews have not trimmed - AT ALL - and the grass is three-feet tall in places.

I'm bullish on Edmonton and now, I wish I really was a bull! There's so much delicious grass to eat!

To learn more about the city's promotion of grass-cycling, weed control standards, litter and public stewardship ... read on ...

Edmonton on Grass-cycling

To Grass-cycle: Mow frequently, about every 4-5 days

Edmonton recently published and distributed the 2006 edition of "the urban recycler", an informational flyer about recycling. Besides a picture of our landlord, Ron Berezan, on page three, it includes an article on "grass-cycling", on the last page. It outlines the merits of recycling grass clippings back into the soil and includes some brief "do's and don'ts". Central to the concept of grass-cycling is mowing frequently. The city recommends mowing every 4-5 days.

I find it ironic that the city recommends that people mow every 4-5 days, when their own stated policy for neighborhood parks is 12 cuttings per season (every 14 days or so).

When the park is infrequently mowed, large clumps of clippings are left behind that stymie the growth of the underlying grass, making growth "patchy". Infrequent mowing also allows weeds to flourish, as shown by the dandelion bloom, pictured here.

Park is Spreading De-Seeds

In the City's "Integrated Pest Management Policy", adopted in 2004, is the outline for reduced usage of pesticides and herbicides. After reading through the policy, I have several observations and comments.

Firstly, the city should be congratulated on such a progressive plan. Over-usage of pesticides and herbicides is not a good thing. It pollutes our environment, upsets the balance of nature and can negatively affect our health. However, I would imagine that there is far more chemical abuse occurring on the small plots of private property, than the large city properties, which are managed by professionals. For the average homeowner, seeking results, if two ounces per five gallons is good, four is better, right?

That argument aside, the policy outlines several control methods for broad-leaf weeds not considered as noxious (of which, the dandelion is one):

  1. Preventative - which includes monitoring, fertilizing, aerating, top-dressing, over-seeding, irrigation and de-thatching.
  2. Mechanical - Mowing, machine trimming and manual removal.
  3. Biological - Establishing herbivore insects that selectively feed on invasive weed species.
  4. Chemical - Use of herbicides to selectively control weeds.

To my knowledge, the grass at Montrose has not been inspected, fertilized, aerated, top-dressed, over-seeded, irrigated or de-thatched, so far this year. They've mowed twice, trimmed around the trees and along the edge with a rider mower once and (you've seen the 3-foot tall grass) haven't trimmed at all. I'd love to see the city release dandelion eating bugs, but (a) I don't know of any and (b) If they have released them, they must not be very hungry, because the park is being overrun by dandelions. I believe that it's time to bring in those registered herbicides!!

As it stands now, the park is a seeding ground for dandelions and when the wind blows, those seeds are distributed throughout the neighborhood. Rather than being the crown jewel of the neighborhood, the park is now a vector agent, infecting neighborhood lawns and gardens with troublesome dandelion seeds. The action level for herbicide use in neighbourhood parks is "6 or more weeds per square metre". I believe we're there! It's time to strap on those chemicals and abate those weeds!

Follow Me, Follow You

The city has been running a "Capital City Clean Up" litter prevention program. This is great, but if they really want the citizens to take care of public spaces, they need to set the example by properly maintaining them. When Montrose is mowed, fertilized, weeded and trimmed, people will treat it with more respect.

We frequent our neighborhood park. It adds value to our neighborhood and quality of life. C'mon Edmonton! Please take better care of our neighborhood park.

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Updated: 7-Jun-2006
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1.flag Dad Comment
E-mail this story to city hall, with a CC to the local paper. You might get some action.
2.flag stk Comment
I already have, actually, though I should have said so in the article.

I sent in a complaint form to the city and emailed the mayor, Stephen Mandel.

By way of coincidence, the city crews came by, later that same day, and trimmed all of the tall grass.

Kudos to the City, as my comments were acted upon the VERY NEXT DAY, when I received a telephone call.

Mostly, I was given excuses (rainy spring means growth and days that crews can't work, 8 crews covering large number of parks and areas, working 12-hour days, 7 days per week and still behind, etc.)

However, the interesting note, is that the "environmentally friendly" Integrated Pest Mgmnt Policy means that the maintenance crews can't really do much about the dandelions.

1) They're not considered a noxious weed, only a nuisance (different rules).

2) Herbicides cannot be applied within 30m of day-care facilities and playgrounds (ever).

3) Herbicides can only be applied to school grounds during July and August (when the schools are not is session).

The restrictive policy was passed in Feb 2004, so they're only just now beginning to reap what they've sowed, so to speak.

Hopefully, letters (and posts) like mine, will help to re-characterize the dandelion as more than a nuisance weed and maybe they'll consider more frequent mowing and/or latitude in the spot-application of herbicides.

We're not hip on Alex playing in a park laced with herbicide, but we're not big on unmowed parks with scads of dandelions, either.

Either way, this post documents the 'state of Montrose Park' on June 5th, 2006.