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City parks, flowers hit by budget cuts

Manual lawn mowing and grass trimming will be reduced in all tot lots and neighbourhood parks this year to reflect council cuts to those services in the 2012 budget.

City council elected to reduce grass trimming and manual mowing by 50 per cent and to cut back on horticulture by 25 per cent.

As a consequence, grass trimming, which includes removing grass from fence lines, playground perimeters, flower and shrub perimeters, signage and park benches, will be reduced from weekly to once every two weeks along the Dogwood extension from McPhedran Road to Jubilee Parkway. Penfield West, Bowen and Cambridge neighbourhood parks, as well as all tot lots and Cedric Jones Park will also only be trimmed every two weeks.

Grass trimming will only be maintained weekly in Spirit Square, Ostler Park, Centennial Park and at city hall – high visibility areas.

Manual mowing services, which are used in areas too small to use a ride-on mower, will be reduced to once a month for boulevards along Maryland subdivision, Harrogate, Hilchey and Westgate parks.

There will be no grass trimming and brushing along the Seawalk, Eden Street Circle by Georgia Park school, and the sani-dump. The city will not clean-up any tennis courts, the lacrosse box at Robron Park, asphalt trails, Heritage Meadow Park, Museum at 4th Avenue or Raven Park.

The cuts are a direct result of the decisions council made in March during budget planning sessions.

But not all councillors were in agreement.

Coun. Ryan Mennie said he was concerned there may be a repeat of last year, when the city decided to cut back on mowing tot lots and neighbourhood parks. Frustrated park users, concerned about safety, brought their own lawn mowers to the park and cut the grass themselves.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen this before,” Mennie said at a finance committee meeting Feb. 28. “It was not something we wanted to do, but we were looking at cost saving measures wherever we could. I can say, based on the reaction from the community, they didn’t see the value in what we were saving. They were coming out with their own lawn mowers. I’m not interested in seeing that again.”

As for council’s decision to cut horticulture, Campbell Riverites can expect to see a 50 per cent overall reduction in flower bed planting at city hall, Robert Ostler Park, the Tidemark and library, and at the pier. There will also be a 25 per cent maintenance reduction.

There will be no planting at the Centennial Building, which houses the Visitors Centre and Art Gallery, at the Welcome to Campbell River sign on Jubilee Parkway, at Ken Forde Park and at the RCMP station.

Also expect to see no planting or service to neighbourhood parks, tot lots, all 15 city boulevards, Willow Point flower baskets, Campbellton islands and in some parks such as Adams, Frank James, Nunns Creek, Dick Murphy, and the sportsplex.

Coun. Larry Samson said in February the cuts could be damaging.

“I think it sets a poor standard for our neighbourhood,” Samson said. “I think we need to set the bar higher.”

The city will maintain last year’s levels when it comes to sports field maintenance, garbage collection in parks, infrastructure maintenance, outdoor washroom upkeep, public service requests, irrigation and city decorations.

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