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Ward 6 News: Stronger Turf or Weaker Weeds - Council passed one-time $1.7m budget for dandelion control in 2016

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A public conversation around dandelion and weed control is going to be an ongoing discussion during growing season next year while the City develops long-term solutions to this issue. There is split thinking among Calgarians on how to tackle these pesky plants. What weed control techniques are you willing to support, and whether or not using chemicals to suppress dandelions is worth the environmental exposure is going to be up for debate.

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The City of Calgary saw a significant increase in complaints to 311 regarding dandelion control this growing season. That was due to the dry conditions Calgary experienced this summer; dandelions are drought tolerant and can compete in grass turf because they have a taproot system which allows the plant to go further down than grass to get nutrients and water. This increase in complaints triggered nine members of Council to sign a Notice of Motion back in June asking Administration to provide short and long-term mitigation strategies to Council no later than October 5, 2015. Monday, Council voted 11-4 in favour of providing a one-time $1.7 million budget to tackle weeds next season in the interim while long-term mitigation strategies are investigated. Administration will report back next year the effects of the short-term strategies, and progress on long-term initiatives.

When dissecting complaints to 311 in 2015, approximately 70% of complaints were about private land, while 30% represented City maintained property. The proposed short-term strategy is for a dandelion suppression program, improving the City's ability to respond to citizen concerns, and providing a short-term solution to maintain park and boulevard aesthetics. This $1.7 million will be split between Parks ($1.1m) and Roads ($0.6m) which will allow increased mowing on City land for the 2016 dandelion growing season. With increased mowing next season, impacts will be assessed and fewer complaints are expected.

As for the 70% of complaints related to private property weed control, Calgarians are encouraged to talk to neighbors about out of control weeds on their property as residents can face fines. Please see the Community Standards Bylaw for weed restrictions. The City will be asking Calgarians their opinions about what abatement methods can be used for City and private land.

In the long-term, The City is reviewing their Integrated Pest Management Plan, last published in 1998, and will conduct a gap analysis which includes engaging the public about preferences and expectations on weed control in Calgary. This analysis will be compiled and reported back to Council in October 2016.

This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.

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