After dealing with sports fields overrun with dandelions last summer, Edmonton city council voted Thursday to spend more money on battling back the weed in 2018.
Council agreed to spend $3 million more on turf maintenance for its sports fields: an extra $1 million will be used to bring back the herbicide iron chelate, and $2 million will be spent on mowing more often.
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Deputy city manager for operations Doug Jones says both approaches are needed to be effective.
“The options we presented did not have the option of just the herbicide because we believe that for a good, healthy turf we do need that additional mowing cycle,” he said.
Back in June, the city said since it stopped spraying its sports fields with conventional herbicides two years ago, many have become overwhelmed by dandelions and other broadleaf weeds each spring.
Iron chelate was used on fields earlier this year when dandelions got out of control. It is five times more expensive than the conventional 2-4-D-type herbicides banned by a 2015 city council policy preventing the use of herbicides for aesthetic purposes.
Iron chelate is one of the lowest-risk options available, according to the city. It blocks the way dandelions absorb oxygen, causing them turn a black or dark reddish-black colour and shrivel up within about a day.
Health Canada has listed it as having low toxicity and minimal environmental impact meaning it’s safe for kids and pets.
Coun. Aaron Paquette said he heard loud and clear from his constituents that they said they wanted both like a better solution to weeds and more mowing.
“Some observers might be wondering why we’re spending so much time debating this, but they have to understand that in Edmonton, we take our grass very seriously,” Paquette said while the issue was being discussed.
A wet spring followed by hot, sunny weather led to a massive mess that Coun. Michael Walters heard plenty about.
“Particularly on our sports fields, you know, ‘six-year-old, five-year-old soccer players were like, playing in porridge’ is one of the metaphors I heard, which is, I think, true to an extent,” Walters said.
Mayor Don Iveson supported the increase as well, saying it will help the city look better in the spring.
“The snow’s gone and the birds are chirping, and the city looks a little shabby,” Iveson said in council.
“So I think even if this has a modest impact on the tax levy, I certainly feel quite comfortable justifying to taxpayers that this, this is at their direction — that they want us to invest in better playing fields for their kids and grandkids, and in a better-looking city at the beginning part of the year when this has tended to get away from us.”
When the mowing season is done next year, council will get a report updating them on how the more expensive plan worked out.
Approving the dandelion plan was the last big-ticket item in the 2018 budget, which council passed Thursday morning. The Edmonton property tax increase for 2018 will be 3.2 per cent. That comes out to an average increase of $89 on a so-called typical home of $400,000.
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