On August 23, Sage Creek residents noticed City of Winnipeg crews with tractors mowing down the native grasses in the Hydro Corridor between Tallgrass Crescent and Red Lily Road. The City was mowing the grasses as their method of weed control.

Controlled burns and spot herbicide application are the preferred methods to maintain native grasses and control weeds. Mowing is also an option, to be used in rotation with other methods. The practice of mowing native grasses is not a wrong one, but the timing of this mow was very unfortunate.

From early August to early October, native plants are sending energy down to their roots in order to survive the winter. If they are cut down during this process, they may not survive the winter, or will have a harder time growing back the following year.

The timing was also wrong for weed control purposes. The City is going to be applying a herbicide to kill the weeds next (which is the appropriate step), however, the mow should have taken place in mid-July to allow time for the weeds to grow back and have enough leaves to absorb the herbicide and send it down to their roots. At this point, with the excess clippings left behind covering a lot of the ground and the short growing season remaining, it is unlikely that any herbicide application will be very effective.

We at Qualico Communities take great pride in the areas we have naturalized for public use. We strived to to create something more than just a green field for parks and recreation, and to create a community that offers back something to the environment and the native ecosystems in Manitoba. We are also aware that many residents were frustrated and confused when they saw this mow underway. We are concerned that approximately 10 acres of native grasses in the Hydro Corridor are at risk of not growing back, or weakening over time.

Naturalized public spaces are relatively new and City maintenance practices must adjust for these areas to thrive. To ensure the City could apply the proper maintenance practices for native grasses, we created Operations and Maintenance manuals, with the help of our expert consultants, for the City to follow. The processes outlined in the manuals have not been followed.

We appreciate that residents and the Sage Creek Residents’ Association took the time to contact us when they observed something that didn’t seem right. We want to continue informing Sage Creek residents about native grasses and how they should be maintained, as well as the role they play in our communities and the environment as a whole. For more information on native grasses in the neighbourhood, visit the Native Grasses and Wetlands page.