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Bylaw cuts against the grain of No Mow May; but that may change

‘I participated in the No Mow May. I think my neighbours, with rare exception, were horrified,’ said Acting Mayor
2022-05-18 Grass
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Did you mow your lawn this past May?

With a groundswell of support for No Mow May across the globe, Collingwood council is considering changes to their policies to allow residents to participate without running afoul of the town’s existing property standards bylaws.

“We have a bylaw in place today that would prevent somebody from participating,” said Acting Mayor Keith Hull during Monday’s (June 20) regular meeting of council. “I’d like staff to take a look at (the bylaw) and potentially amend it so if someone were to participate, they wouldn’t be in contradiction of the existing bylaw.”

No Mow May is an initiative undertaken in multiple municipalities to help support local pollinators, asking residents to hold off on their first mow of the season until June to allow pollinators a chance to feast on dandelions and other wildflowers. Benefits to ecosystems can include increased pollination, plant diversity and reduced greenhouse emissions. The idea started in the United Kingdom and has spread to Canada and other countries.

However, under the Town of Collingwood’s property standards (lawn, grass and weeds) bylaw, grass must be kept shorter than 15 centimetres (or six inches) in length.

He noted that as he participated this year, he wasn’t in compliance with the bylaw.

“Currently there’s a length (of grass allowed), and I clearly breached that during the month of May,” he said.

Hull first brought the matter to council’s attention at the June 6 corporate and community services standing committee meeting during an inquiry regarding whether the municipality formally adopted a No Mow May campaign.

“I participated in the No Mow May. I think my neighbours, with rare exception, were horrified,” said Hull at that time, with a laugh.

Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture Dean Collver said the town didn’t formally adopt a campaign.

“Quite honestly, we have liability concerns in some areas such as sports fields, but wherever possible we resisted cutting to help out with the no-mow concept,” said Collver.

“I will admit, it also fit pretty well with our staffing shortfall,” he added, with a laugh.

Hull put forward a notice of motion to request staff to report back on the possibility of amending the bylaw to allow Collingwood residents to participate in No Mow May. He noted the timing on any staff report on the matter wasn’t urgent, and could be held until 2023.