Leave our grass alone, say residents

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Amherst Cres. residents protest mowing in TUC

An Amherst Crescent woman wants the province to leave the grass and animals behind her home alone.

Contractors cut and baled grass from the strip of the transportation utility corridor (TUC) for the Anthony Henday by Amherst Crescent last week. The province owns the corridor.

Resident Adeline Andronyk has lived on Amherst for 36 years. Her property backs onto the corridor.

A long-time volunteer with St. Albert’s Partners in Parks program, said she regularly patrols the roughly 100-metre-long stretch of the corridor behind her home to keep it clean – although she had to stop this year for health reasons.

The construction of the Henday brought a lot of unwanted light and noise into her home, she said.

So when she saw some City of St. Albert workers mowing the area behind her home this summer, she asked the supervisor if they could leave the grass standing to serve as a buffer.

The supervisor – whose name she could not recall – agreed, provided that the neighbours supported the move and that the city be allowed to spray for weeds.

“He said if anything it would save the taxpayers money,” Andronyk said.

The TUC by Amherst Crescent has a roughly 30- to 40-metre-wide stretch of grass between the back fence-line of local homes and a barbed wire fence. While the city cleared a roughly 10-metre strip of grass adjacent to the back fence line, crews left the roughly 20-metre wide and 100-metre-long stretch of grass beyond that untouched. Come October, it was about knee high.

Last Friday, Andronyk saw a tractor behind her home cutting the rest of the grass.

When she ran outside to speak with the driver, she said the driver told her that the clearing was on the orders of “(Premier) Jim Prentice’s office,” which wanted the region mowed down to nothing.

“I just burst into tears,” Andronyk said.

The grass had done much to buffer noise from the Henday, and had brought many animals back to the region, Andronyk said.

“We have moose, we have coyotes, we have gophers, we have rabbits coming back,” she said.

“All this will be absolutely gone … it’s just an absolute travesty.”

Neighbour Valerie Davison was also displeased with the mowing.

“The Anthony Henday is terribly loud, and we would love to see trees and natural foliage back there.”

She said she and other neighbours regularly walk through the corridor and liked the return of animals and vegetation to the region.

“We call it our backyard.”

Mixed messages

City parks co-ordinator Steve Schlese said city crews have long mowed a small stretch of grass along the back-fence line of this region to control weeds. He hadn’t heard about any deal with Andronyk to not cut the grass behind her home.

“It gets a little fuzzy there,” he said of the region, as you’ve got overlapping jurisdictions between the city, Edmonton, the province and the power-line company AltaLink.

This particular part of the TUC has been leased to a farmer who mows it for hay, said Alberta Infrastructure spokesperson Dallas Huybregts. The province regularly mows TUC areas to reduce fire hazards and discourage illegal dumping.

“Even if it was not leased to anybody and it was just unused, we would still need to cut it to comply with local bylaws,” he said. He recommended that Andronyk call his department at 780-415-0507 to discuss this matter.

Andronyk said she hoped the province would leave the grass alone and let it naturalize.

“We can’t let this go,” she said, fighting back tears.

“My God, where are all the creatures going to go?”

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.