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

Dave Bartlett
Published on July 19, 2011
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.