City to re-examine new ‘no-mow’ policy

Dave Bartlett
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A sign indicating a no-mow zone at Victoria Park lies in the tall grass in the area. The City of St. John's says it will have the grass cut for the upcoming Lantern Festival and will review its policy about no-mow zones. Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram.

The City of St. John’s public works committee asked staff on Monday to take another look at the city’s new “no-mow” policy only weeks after it was announced at a city council meeting.

The policy was announced at the June 28 meeting of council. For safety reasons, ride-on lawn mowers can no longer be used on grades of more than 10 per cent and push mowers on grades of more than 15 per cent, as per the manufacturers’ guidelines.

At that meeting Ward 2 Coun. Frank Galgay said he understood the safety aspect but said it would be inappropriate to allow areas — such as Victoria Park which is on a hill side — to go unmowed.

“To let the grass grow continually up in that particular area, or any area of the city for that matter... it looks terrible,” he said.

Mayor Dennis O’Keefe and councillors, Sandy Hickman and Bruce Tilley agreed. Hickman said it would be different if colourful wild flowers were planted on the banks, as opposed to a tall field of weeds.

But Ward 5 Coun. Wally Collins said safety has to come first.

“(What if) someone got their feet chopped off?” he asked. “There’s one (employee who’s) after tipping over a (ride-on) lawn mower now.”

At Monday’s public works committee, Galgay read from a letter from the Friends of Victoria Park. The group wants the city to take care of the long grass in the park before the annual lantern festival at the end of this month.

Again, there was a debate between unsightliness and safety.

The director of public works Paul Mackie said his staff would take another look at the policy to see what areas can be cut with string-trimmers, or weed whackers.

But he said that could mean significant labour costs, suggesting trimming machines take much longer to cut grass than mowers do.

Mackie did say staff would take care of Victoria Park before the festival.

Geographic location: Victoria Park

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Recent comments

  • Stej
    November 09, 2011 - 13:03

    Mowing does not make a park aesthetically pleasing. What you guys don't realize is that once these areas are naturalized, meadows can developed. Look at Windsor - their 2009 strike led to the growth of beautiful wildflower meadows that are now loved and appreciated by many of its citizens. These parks aren't just for humans, they provide an important habitat to animals and insects. Just because an area isn't being mowed, that does not mean it cannot be maintained - i.e. litter removal and weeding. Open your minds people - theres so much more to green landscapes than closely mown turf.

  • Ashley
    August 09, 2011 - 15:16

    I kind of have to wonder. 10 or 15% is kind of laughable given the terrain we live in. 1000s of people living in Newfoundland manage to cut their steep lawns and I can't recall hearing about any real accidents so I wouldn't consider it such a stretch to mow the parks.

  • TaG
    July 19, 2011 - 13:10

    How did this become a big issue? Safety challenges are a big thing, and you can't get in the way of unions when it comes to safety, or being challenging. But sarcasm aside, is there no one in support of our city operations that can’t find a solution to this problem? Yes, goats and sheep are an option. But do we really want that for the city?! Gas powered trimmers; we wouldn’t be the first city to use those to keep grass at a reasonable level. Or maybe use the magic of the internet and see that there are several remote control lawn mowers used for steep grades. Maybe the city should buy one, or maybe a private contractor should buy it and lease it to the city like much of our snow clearing equipment. I know it’s scary to use our heads, but come on, simple problem multiple solutions.

  • glenn richards
    July 19, 2011 - 13:10

    if the grass won't be cut, how about sweeping the broken beer bottles off walkways and stairs between livingstone st. and longs hill. grass ( well some of it ) has been cut three times and the glass is still there why? the HAUNTED HIKE passes through there. iguess the glass is the scary part. where is the superviser to check work proformed? to damn lazy to get out of the truck and walk a few sets of steps in the name of safety

  • Frances
    July 19, 2011 - 11:47

    You got workers getting killed on the highway inspecting pavement and other 'Real' jobs and here in St. John's you have the bums who call themselves city workers making ridiculous wages who don't have the basic sense to mow the lawn without cutting off their toes. AND what's worse, the city takes them by the hand and tells them they don't have to mow anymore. Mindy, you said slow and steady wins the race. Well in that case, council workers in St. John's must be Olympic Champions because about the only thing they are good at is 'Slow'"

  • Grandma
    July 19, 2011 - 10:40

    I agree that the "No Mow" zones are unsightly, and Bowring Park this year is the worst I've seen in all my years of walking there. Grass clippings are left to dry or rot, and anyone having their wedding catered at the bungalow will have their formal attire covered in grass, the wedding photos will look like they were taken in a field of "cow patties". Combine that with the nine (by my count) hideous dumpster type of planters with seats attached that now sport dead trees and our once beautiful park is now an eye-sore. But there is more, they have now placed damaged, old cement planters taken from areas where they were apparently vandalized and centered them in the main roadway. Is the plan to reduce the park to a recepticle for junk? What a dishonour to the Bowring family for their bequest to the city. Please restore the park to its former beauty, fire the idiots who are responsible for this mess.

  • Mindy
    July 19, 2011 - 10:38

    This story puts the icing on the cake!!! I use a push mower, a trimmer and yes I even use a ride on ....yes I do have graded property. But never have I tipped over my ride on nor have I chopped my foot off. Oh and by the way I'm female(if that makes a difference), so I'm sure all the big hefty men at the coucil yard can put on a pair of steel toe boots (by the way are manitory) and us a little common sense and pratice saftey.. Slow and steady wins the race just don't do a figure eight and whip around the lawn like Mario. It is a peice of property not a race track..

  • Paul
    July 19, 2011 - 10:29

    Have the workers clean up some of the sand and rock on the sidewalks and then maybe some trash that litters our cities sidewalks !......keep them from from being idle !!!

  • Andrew
    July 19, 2011 - 10:09

    I saw a council worker running with scissors in Bannerman Park last week and eveyone got out of his way. After reading this story I can see why.

  • Chris
    July 19, 2011 - 10:07

    A few weeks back I was driving down Stamps Lane and noticed once of these signs. I turned around to read it and saw the No Mow sign. What I found funny was that all the grass around the sign had been freshly mowed. Another bright idea wasting taxpayers money.

  • dontgetmestarted
    July 19, 2011 - 10:06

    Funny- they can make a property owner mow an unsightly area if there are complaints. Also, tall grass encourages pests such as mice & rats to nest. Saw a rather large dead rat in the middle of our street last week not far from an unsightly unmowed empty lot. Guess I'll have to place a complaint.

  • Brian
    July 19, 2011 - 09:37

    Take the damn mowing our of the hands of these spoiled council workers and hand it over to university or even high school students who could use the work, and have the common sense to useh regular lawn mowers without cutting their toes off,. What has this city come too when you have lazy moronic council workers dictating city polic? GET OFF YOUR LAZY BUTTS, GO TO BOWERING PARK, CUT THE BLOODY GRASS AND STOP THIS CHILDISH NONSENSE!!

  • Gerry
    July 19, 2011 - 09:20

    I am of the opinion that a lot of St. John's is already in the "no-mow" category. This City has got to be one of, if not THEE most untidy cities in Canada. I have lived all over this Country and I can't compare any place to St. John's in terms of how poorly the properties of many of its residents look. Just take a drive around the place and look at the lawns that never seem to get mowed and many of those that are mowed look like they were done in a rush (just to get it over with). And look at the litter around the outside of some residences, paper, cardboard, cans, broken glass, weeds, weeds and more weeds. Are people just plain LAZY or is it that they just have no sense of esthetics? To add to the mess just drive around and see some of the areas around certain businesses. It's just bloody shameful ..... garbage (paper, cardboard, weeds) everywhere. Little wonder that visitors/tourists think we are unique. We're unique alright. We're just plain careless, sloppy, messy and non-chalant about all things around us. And to think that amongst all this mess there are some beautifully kept homes and lawns by some very concerned, conscientious citizens. It must be maddening and frustrating to keep your property looking pleasant and appealing and to be living next door to something that looks so much to the contrary.!!!! And why isn't the City doing something about this situation.? The Capital and historic City of St. John's ..... and just plain UNTIDY, MESSY, DISORDERLY and CARELESS.

  • Phil
    July 19, 2011 - 09:13

    To all those who think the precaution is over the top. Read your Occupational Health and Safety Legislation. You may consider it excessive, but it is the law, and ignoring manufacturer reccomendations opens any organization to a law suit.

  • wayne
    July 19, 2011 - 09:06

    get sheep....mowing and fertilizing all in one package. We are not allowed to kill the bugs because of the environment; and we can't mow the grass because it's not safe. Nanny state gone wild !!!

  • Peter
    July 19, 2011 - 08:44

    Yes, next with all the long grass in the city will come an infestation of Ticks and then Lyme Disease. Peoples pets will become infected and then pass it on to their owners. Then, as the residents scream at City Hall to do something about the ensuring epidemic, someone will ask "What were we thinking when we decided not to cut the grass anyway?" So, when it comes to safety, where do you draw the line?

  • Jeff
    July 19, 2011 - 08:44

    15% grade!? About 90% of the lawnmowers being operated in newfoundland are being operated outside of the manufacturer's recommendations. Use a scythe.

  • W Bagg
    July 19, 2011 - 07:50

    mow laterally with push mowers or use whipper snippers.

  • Michael
    July 19, 2011 - 07:45

    No-mow zones look ridiculous. I can't believe THIS is what takes up council time. And whomever the employees are that can't operate a riding mower on a 10% grade, or mow an area on a 15% grade should be fired. How ridiculous. Safety concern? Here's a thought, wear some steel toe boots, and TAKE YOUR TIME.

  • Anne
    July 19, 2011 - 07:32

    "Again, there was a debate between unsightliness and safety." Sounds like they are debating tearing down one of those old firetraps on Water Street that Shannie, Peg Norman and Mr. Budgell Malone call home. As for the employee who tipped over on a riding lawn mower, what idiot allowed him to ride one there in the first place? Here's a suggestion, have these council workers use regular lawnmowers instead. Not only will they not tip over, the exercise will help them get rid of their hillbilly beer bellies.

  • nfldborn
    July 19, 2011 - 07:23

    Bowring Park looks terrible in the "no mow" areas as well. It's a sin actually in such a beautiful park. It really needs to be mowed.

  • Anne
    July 19, 2011 - 07:20

    "Again, there was a debate between unsightliness and safety." Sounds like they are debating tearing down one of those old firetraps on Water Street that Shannie, Peg Norman and Mr. Budgell Malone call home. As for the employee who tipped over on a riding lawn mower, what idiot allowed him to ride one there in the first place? Here's a suggestion, have these council workers use regular lawnmowers instead. Not only will they not tip over, the exercise will help them get rid of their hillbilly beer bellies.

  • Saucy Face
    July 19, 2011 - 07:11

    Wally Collins asked. “(What if) someone got there feet chopped off?” Oh give me a break Wally! When someone is not paying attention to what he's doing sh*t happens. This council has to get over the 'sky is falling mentality' that it has and use common sense, something that this council is sadly lacking.

  • Bob Loblaw
    July 19, 2011 - 07:02

    Are the city workers that stupid that they cannot operate these basic machines without hurting themselves? Bys oh bys, what a bunch of maroons!

  • just wondering
    July 19, 2011 - 06:56

    Did they ever hear tell of a scythe? An experienced user could cut the grass quicker than someone using a whipper-snipper or similar device. Then again, I don't say there are too many experienced 'scythe' users currently on city payroll.

  • Katy
    July 19, 2011 - 06:46

    Simple. Use the old-style push mowers, and give workers steel-toe boots. Push mowers are better for the environment, easier to operate, less likely to injure the user, and easy to repair. They don't add to noise pollution, and are quite cheap to purchase.

  • Robert
    July 19, 2011 - 06:42

    Get some sheep!