The Politics of Dandelions

We have been hit by a ‘perfect storm’ this year for dandelions. This is due to a combination of stretched City resources trying to cover a rapidly growing city with more developed land, ample sunshine, and generous rain, which is doubly potent as it helps dandelion growth and hinders mowing. As a result, dandelions have grown at a rate of ½ inch per day versus the standard of ⅛ inch per day. 

So where do we go from here? I supported Council’s motion in early June to raise funding for targeted mowing and to have the Administration look into other strategies for curbing dandelion growth. Dandelions are passing their June peak, but it’s important that we are mindful of their presence and the problems that they create.

While I think that dandelions have been a blight on our parklands, it is my firm belief that we can manage non-noxious weeds without resorting to widespread herbicide use. I am, however, in favour of the new initiative in our city to use low-risk herbicides in extreme cases where they do impede activity, such as in sports fields. With more than 5000 registered minor soccer players in south Edmonton alone, these fields and their turf are important to our recreational and wellness goals as a city.

This will balance concerns around safety, cost, and environmental impact while minimizing the pesky weeds. Devoted City resources for mowing and a more frequent mowing cycle, up from the current 10-12 days will still be used for most public spaces and will go a long way in solving this problem both in the short-term and long-term.

The decision to reduce the City’s use of herbicides on all unwanted plants except noxious weeds in favour of mowing was undertaken in June 2015. We heard from a range of experts and concerned citizens who expressed their support for a herbicide and pesticide free city. This was spurred by a desire to keep toxic chemicals away from living spaces, ensuring that people of all ages and their pets are kept safe. 

I voted for this motion when it was introduced and I still feel that there are viable alternatives to blanket herbicide use but I do think that we need to do more about our dandelion problem and I am happy to report that we are.