The city will likely spend $20,000, which it did not budget for, to mow the grass in neighbourhood parks after the city’s neglect caused an uproar in many neighbourhoods.
During budget discussions, city council opted to take $26,000 out of the parks and recreation budget and reduce grass cutting in 10 neighbourhood parks and seven tot lots from once every two weeks to two times per season.
That decision appeared to backfire on the city after residents complained loudly enough to force City Manager Andy Laidlaw to re-examine the issue.
“The unusually vigorous grass growth this spring was not anticipated and the city has responded to community concerns by restoring the service level for grass mowing in these parks,” said Laidlaw.
“The reduction in service levels prompted significant community concern with respect to aesthetics, health and safety of these areas.”
In some cases, people took it upon themselves to maintain their neighbourhood park.
Residents in the Marina Boulevard area mowed the grass in Lilelana Park as did Cambridge Drive residents who cut the tall grass in Cambridge Park, and organized a “Mowathon” last weekend.
Laidlaw said he directed city staff to reimplement the original mowing schedule last week and believes it will cost the city $20,000, as it is now partially through the growing season.
Council had the option of voting to take money from the current budget surplus, use funds from the council contingency or review staff service level reductions, during Tuesday night’s council meeting after the Mirror went to press.
“Grass cutting started Monday morning and it will take city crews two to three weeks to get back on track with the once-every-two-weeks mowing schedule,” said Ross Milnthorp, the city’s general manager of parks, recreation and culture.
“We appreciate the community’s patience and co-operation as we continue our work to maintain all city parks and green spaces.”