City determines to cut back on dandelion spraying

  • Aug. 29, 2012 3:58 p.m.

Pity the unloved dandelion, even if, as a few of its defenders insist, its leaves make great salads and the flowers drinkable wine. It’s a difficult issue to resolve.

The easiest way to control them is to spray with pesticides, but many people are against spraying because of concerns about cancer and other side effects.

The City of Red Deer, backing a recommendation from the Environmental Advisory Committee, will continue to cut back on spraying, as was decided at last week’s regular meeting. Council recently approved a motion to cut spraying by another 10% by 2035 from 2010 levels. It will also use alternate turf care practices, like over-seeding, top dressing and enhanced aeration and invest in alternative control projects to beat back the pesky plants.

“Dandelions are like the poor, they will always be with us,” said Mayor Morris Flewwelling at last week’s council meeting. “When you see fields of dandelions, that’s when I think the public becomes upset and our hope is that by better turf management (in the future), we will avoid the fields of dandelions and see fields of grass with a few dandelions around the border.”

Flewwelling supported the reduced spraying policy, as did most of council (Buck Buchanan was absent), except for Councillors Chris Stephan and Frank Wong.

Wong said dandelions are out of control because of the City’s cutbacks. “We’re not spraying enough, so instead of the City spraying, residents are paying a lot to control dandelions on their own. And it doesn’t get any better because you can’t keep up with it.” He said he gets a lot of complaints about dandelions; a dozen emails and half a dozen phone calls during one recent week alone.

On the other side of the argument is Councillor Cindy Jefferies.

“You do see them in the community and people complain about them. My concern is that we as individual citizens are using more herbicides than the City would be if the City were dealing with the problem.

“But if there’s a chance that it causes cancer or health issues, which some documentation suggests, we need to be leaning in the direction of finding better alternatives and leading the pack in that direction rather than saying we give up, lets just spray. It’s a hard one. I know there’s lots of people who hate that yellow flower, but we need to take a longer view of the issue.”