Cities bring out the lawnmowers in the middle of the Dandelion Challenge

Some cities participating in the Dandelion Challenge took out the mowers this week, a situation that raises questions among citizens asked to delay mowing their lawns.

What there is to know ?

Nearly 130 cities are participating this year in the Dandelion Challenge, inspired by the British “No Mow May” movement.

Participating cities agree to delay mowing the grass on the majority of municipal lands until the dandelions have finished flowering.

However, some cities are only delaying mowing on a minority of areas, citing restrictive contracts, logistical reasons and effects on the health of the population.

Danielle Bordua lives opposite a municipal park in the Sainte-Dorothée district of Laval. At the start of the week, she was shocked to see the mowers cutting down the dandelions there. “We are asked to do the Dandelion Challenge, but the City is having lawns mowed this week in public spaces,” she is indignant.

“The sports fields, I can understand, but they might not touch the rest. » She made the same observation last year when Laval participated for the first time in the Dandelion Challenge.

On its website, the City of Laval indicates that it is delaying the first mowing on ten municipal lands, notably those of city hall and six libraries. Why not more?

“For sporting needs, we are maintaining the mowing of certain fields,” indicates Jonathan Lévesque, public affairs advisor to the City of Laval. Also, we have contracts regarding the mowing of certain other lands which must be respected. This is why there are certain places where there have been cuts. » Last year, five municipal grounds welcomed dandelions in May. Mr. Lévesque indicates that the City intends to increase the number of participating sites next year.

In Quebec, however, all municipal lands, with the exception of those dedicated to sports, are not mown early in the spring; the City has succeeded, with the collaboration of its suppliers, in aligning maintenance contracts with the end of dandelion flowering.

Elsewhere in the province, citizens highlighted, on Facebook, the irony of seeing their town, registered in the Dandelion Challenge, go through the mowers at the beginning of May. This is particularly the case in Gatineau and Saint-Hyacinthe, where 8 and 12 lots are respectively targeted by late mowing. In Saint-Hyacinthe, the director of communications and citizen participation, Lyne Arcand, ensures that only the grass on the sports grounds is cut.

On the territory of Gatineau, specific lands are targeted for various reasons, mainly “workforce management and the health of the population,” the Communications Department of the City of Gatineau responded to us in writing. “Employees are specifically assigned to mowing municipal land and it would be difficult to relocate them all during this period,” we specify. The City also mentions the difficulties that arise in the weeks following the challenge – tall grass slows down the pace of the teams and increases the risk of equipment breakdown – as well as the repercussions that not mowing land on people suffering from allergies.

However, contrary to widespread belief, dandelion pollen does not travel in the air, according to biologist Claude Lavoie, professor at Laval University and author of Dandelions versus lawn.

In May, the plants responsible for allergic rhinitis are mainly trees, he specifies. The National Institute of Public Health of Quebec also confirms that dandelion pollen is not allergenic.

The majority of land

By registering for the Dandelion Challenge, an initiative launched in 2021 by Miel & Co beekeepers, cities undertake to delay mowing the grass on the majority of their lands, not to apply pesticides all year round and to invite their citizens and employees to participate in the challenge. Sports facilities such as soccer fields are excluded, specifies Christina Fortin-Ménard, president of the Dandelion Challenge.

“We rely on the goodwill of the cities,” she declares. We would like to control all that, but we are a non-profit organization. Our means are limited. Instead, we focus on raising awareness. » Aware of the fact that some cities deviate from this rule, she says she cannot “play police”.

Nearly 130 cities are participating in the Dandelion Challenge. To encourage them to be serious and ensure the sustainability of the Challenge, the organization introduced this year a symbolic registration fee of $200 which includes communication tools. “We want a city that registers to encourage its citizens to participate, but first, it does so,” says Christina Fortin-Ménard.

Note that certain cities, such as Sherbrooke, have chosen not to register for the Dandelion Challenge, but to carry out their own awareness campaign.


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