In an effort to save money, the the City of Edmonton has had to prioritize its spending.
That now includes reducing service levels for things like cutting grass. In some city parks, the grass is up to 16 inches tall and the area is covered in dandelions.
“We’ve used our resources to meet the demands of providing services and the reduced frequency on cutting is a budgetary decision,” interim city manager Adam Laughlin said Thursday.
For district parks and fields, mowing is now on a 21-day cycle — normally it’s seven days.
That new cycle also applies to multi-use pathways, roads and boulevards.
Premier sports fields and the city’s main parks — like Hawrelak — will stay on the standard seven-day cycle.
“We still do have a problem with our budget — which is a 100s-of-millions-of-dollars problem,” Ward 9 councillor Tim Cartmell said Friday.
The city has previously been criticized for offering rebates to people buying E-Bikes at a time when it’s had to cut services.
Mayor Don Iveson defended the decision Thursday.
“The timing is what it is… but our commitment to supporting Edmontonians to transition to a lower carbon future is actually the underlying point here,” Iveson said.
Tim Cartmell said it’s “a real question of optics and priority.”
“The idea that we cannot do something as simple as keep the fields cut so the children can play — or operate and open up spray parks or spray pads… yet there’s money to buy very expensive bikes and subsidize that for people,” Cartmell said.
However, he did note cutting grass is not necessarily the highest priority on his list either.
“Frankly that’s an aesthetic concern,” he said.
“I appreciate that and I don’t want to be dismissive of that, but when we start talking about what our next priority is — where we are going to spend our resources — I think our priority would still be on transit and recreation centres — getting those back to more normal operations before we cut more grass.”
The city has temporarily laid-off more than 2,500 people since March.
It’s unclear how much money scaling back the frequency of parkland maintenance would save the city.
Iveson said he’s open to “further discussion about turf management and what we can do given the financial constraints your city is under.”