Spray no more: City of Edmonton asking residents not to use pesticides at city parks to combat increased weeds

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The City of Edmonton is urging residents to stop spraying pesticides on city parkland this summer as reduced mowing cycles in most city parks have led to an increase in weeds.

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Spraying any pesticide or hiring a contractor to do so in any public park or open space could lead to a $250 fine and could also cause damage to turf, plants and public property, the city said in a news release Thursday afternoon about the growing concern.

“Edmontonians with concerns about weeds are encouraged to report them through 311. Once a notification is received, crews are dispatched to investigate the infestation and respond with the appropriate controls which may include hand pulling, overseeding, mechanical removal or targeted herbicide applications to specific invasive weed species,” city spokesman Zak Fairbrother said in the release. “In addition, when applying herbicides to your private property, always ensure you are using only approved products from Health Canada.”

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The city didn’t provide specifics on how the issue of pesticide spraying has grown compared to past summers, but this year mowing cycles have been reduced at most city parks. Neighbourhood parks, regular sports fields and boulevards are now cut on a 10 to 14-day cycle throughout the summer and are no longer cared for weekly from April to mid-June. As a result, the city said residents could expect to see increased grass growth as well as more weeds.

Last summer, the city also stopped using an iron chelate herbicide to control the growth of dandelions on sports fields. Dandelions aren’t considered an invasive weed species and as a result they are not controlled through herbicide applications. The yellow weed has benefits as an early food source for pollinators, like bees, as well as butterfly larvae, the city said. With the reduced treatment, dandelion control has been reduced at parks, sports fields, roads, trails and sidewalks.

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Edmontonians are also reminded not to cut the grass in parks on their own due to safety reasons and the city has a designated team for the job. This was an issue last summer as many residents took grass cutting into their own hands after the city reduced grass cutting substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic. From a 21-day mowing cycle, the city increased maintenance to every two weeks starting in mid-July due to the concerns.

Weekly mowing cycles on premier sports fields and high-profile parks have been maintained, but areas of longer grass around trees and fence lines is expected due to reduced trimming.

duscook@postmedia.com

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