Edmonton considering spraying herbicides to deal with dandelions

The City of Edmonton is reviewing all options to help with dandelion control, including the spraying of herbicides, says Doug Jones, deputy manager of operations.

'We have to act fairly quickly and do it fast,' says deputy manager of operations

Green spaces in Edmonton are covered in dandelions that have gone to seed. (John Robertson/CBC)

The city is reviewing all options to help with dandelion control, including the spraying of herbicides, says the deputy manager of operations.

Staff will review the city's bylaw on herbicide use as part of developing a plan over the next 48 hours on how to tackle the dandelion problem, Doug Jones told city council on Tuesday.

"We have to act fairly quickly and do it fast," Jones said.

The city moved away from spraying dandelions in June 2015, when council passed a herbicide ban on city-owned land, with some exemptions. 

"We want to do it for the right reasons," Jones said, adding that aesthetics is not a reason to spray sports fields.

If it is determined that city crews will spray herbicides, the public will be informed, he said.

"If they're small it's not so bad," Jones said of dandelions. "But if they really get well ingrained into the ground and grow, it can become a tripping hazard on a sports field. That's a safety issue we'd want to address."

Parents of soccer players have complained about some playing surfaces, Coun. Bryan Anderson said.

Full report to come

Anderson introduced a motion to city council on Tuesday asking for options and costs to more effectively deal with dandelions and turf maintenance.

That detailed report is due back on Aug. 29.

"I am concerned about what the absence of the use of herbicides is going to do two and three and four years down the road," Anderson said. "Whether or not it will be impossible to maintain grass on road right-of-ways and medians.

"If the solution then is to naturalize and take three or four years for grass to grow to 18 inches and two feet and crowd out or choke out dandelions, I don't think that's acceptable."

Wet weather this spring followed by warm temperatures created a "perfect storm" for dandelions to thrive, said Jones.

A wind storm in late May then forced staff usually out cutting grass to be diverted to tree and branch cleanup, he said. 

Staff then got behind with the grass cutting schedule, which compounded the dandelion problem, he said.

Staff have been working overtime and on weekends to catch up, and should be back on track by June 16, Jones said.
Dandelions are flourishing in Edmonton this spring. (John Robertson/CBC)