Grass Cutting and Landscaping Maintenance Update
I have been hearing from many Ward 2 residents who are concerned with the lack of landscaping maintenance in their communities. Most recently, I have been made aware that Nolan Hill’s green spaces are currently in deplorable conditions with overgrown turf, dead trees, and dandelions taking over the fields and boulevards. I took a drive through Nolan Hill to see the issues firsthand, and I agree that it is bad at every corner you turn. My staff and I have been in constant contact with Parks over the past few weeks to find a resolution and I would like to share the updates we have touched on.
Although the below updates specifically mention Nolan Hill, these updates may be of interest to all communities within Ward 2:
Parks has asked that I provide them with specific locations to send to their Parks Operations group to monitor. I would like to thank all residents who have provided me with photos and specific locations of problematic areas. I would also like to thank all the folks who have submitted a service request through to 311.
My staff and I held a meeting with the Manager of Parks and Open Spaces yesterday morning and we shared our disappointment and concerns with the lack of mowing and landscaping maintenance. We were told that Parks hires a well-established contractor to tend to Ward 2 communities, but this season they are experiencing staff shortages, equipment challenges (due to supply chain issues), as well as a pause in their mowing cycle due to the inclement rain we have seen. Parks notified us that the mowing crew was sent out yesterday to tend to the high turf, but unfortunately, I was also notified on Facebook last night that one of the mowers appeared to have broken down. I have since requested from Parks that they send out another contractor to complete the job if necessary.
Mowing Quick Facts
- Parks monitors performance of contractors and endeavors to maintain positive relationships with our contractors while holding them accountable. My staff and I will continue to monitor this.
- The majority of mowing in our parks and open spaces is done by external contractors. Parks has contracts in place with multiple mowing contractors.
- Mowing cycles for parks and open spaces are completed every 10-14 days (weather dependent) with high use sports fields mowed more frequently.
- There are multiple mowing contractors working on a vast system of turf assets across the city and it is difficult to provide precise dates for mowing progress and completion for this reason and due to contractor staffing challenges. With these caveats, we can advise that our contractor has completed the mowing cycle in Nolan Hill as of today and the remainder of the cycle (that began on June 17th) is anticipated to be completed by July 1st.
- There are limited contractor resources available across The City, however in some cases subcontractors are being brought in to get mowing cycles back on track (this includes parts of Ward 2).
There have been areas with dead trees located in Nolan Hill, specifically at Nolan Hill Blvd between 144th Ave and Nolanlake View/Nolanhurst Way. Our concerns have been forwarded to Urban Forestry, however there was no timeline for action provided. The Urban Forestry group uses 311 Service Requests in order to generate work orders, and I would encourage residents to continue submitting their photos and locations through the mobile or desktop app.
The City is required to control weeds on the noxious weed list under Provincial legislation – there are currently 74 weeds on that list that require a high level of effort to control and/or eradicate, and dandelions are not on the noxious weed list. The City does not spray herbicides for cosmetic reasons, only for legislated requirements or for asset protection from invasive species.
The City has performed public engagement on dandelions in the past: about one third of people want all dandelions to be sprayed, one third do not want any dandelions to be sprayed, and one third weren’t concerned one way or the other. It’s a polarizing issue. Once herbicide technicians begin controlling weeds that are on the noxious weed list we will then begin to get passionate inquiries about spraying too many chemicals in our parks. This is a very normal course of events when it comes to dandelions, people feel very passionately about this issue on both sides of the debate.
Weed Management Quick Facts
- The City uses an Integrated Pest Management approach when dealing with weeds on City property and is committed to a balanced approach that considers all weed management techniques and selects appropriate ones for specific areas and situations.
- There is federal and provincial legislation in place that limits where and when we can use herbicides and pesticides. The City’s IPM Plan can be found at this link: https://www.calgary.ca/content/dam/www/csps/parks/documents/planning-and-operations/pest-management/integrated-pest-management-plan.pdf
Enhanced Landscaping Maintenance Program (ELM)
I have also heard many residents comparing their state of community green space to others – in looking further into this, this is a result of some communities being a part of the ELM Program. Which is a community-led, volunteer initiative. Any extra landscaping and maintenance on public lands (above and beyond standard City levels of service) is paid for by the community.
To participate in the program, you must be a non-profit organization representing your entire geographic neighbourhood, such as a Community Association, Residents Association or Homeowners Association.
Here are the communities participating:
- Hawkwood Uplands
The following Ward 2 communities have shown interest in the program and Parks is working with them as they explore the potential of joining the program:
Nolan Hill - Received the estimate of the operating grant and is reviewing feasibility to join in 2023. No petition required as the HOA collects caveat on title funds to support the sustainability of the program.
Evanston - They have reached out to their NPC and is beginning to explore feasibility. This group would be required to petition the neighbourhood and join as a Special Tax Levy community. They explored this program prior to the start of the pandemic, however at the time did not have the volunteer capacity to petition the neighbourhood.
To learn more, visit: How to participate in the Enhanced Landscape Maintenance Program (calgary.ca)
Nolan Hill Homeowner’s Association
As you are aware, Nolan Hill’s HOA is managed by Astoria. My staff had a conversation with them to learn more.
They have been receiving a lot of negative feedback on maintenance conditions from residents, and no decision has been made to join the ELM program due to costs/lack of HOA fee payments ($100 per house / $75 per condo). As it stands, the highest percentage of homeowners paying HOA fees was only 50% of members about three years ago, and the HOA never ends up collecting full payments from the community – which would amount to around $230,000 per year. Their landscaping contractor provided them with a quote of $70,000+ per year to manage all impacted areas.
The HOA is still investigating other options to beautify the community in areas they have control over. One item that came from their AGM was that the Board approved spraying areas for dandelions that they are responsible for.
This is a ton of info, and I hope you share this with your neighbours. In order to generate work orders, please continue to submit your SRs to 311. Thank you all for your continued patience as we work through the challenges our contractors are experiencing.
Categories: Enhanced Landscape Maintenance, General, Parks, Tips