Sackville moving ahead with 20-acre addition to Waterfowl Park

The Lund property just west of Squire Street will add meadow and woodland to the Sackville Waterfowl Park

At its next meeting on Monday, town council is expected to approve spending $15,000 on improvements to nearly 20 acres of marshy and wooded land that is about to become part of the Sackville Waterfowl Park.

The town is planning to erect a small cairn telling visitors that the land was willed to Sackville by long-time resident Daniel Lund who died in 2013 at the age of 92.

The town is also planning to restore a cobblestone trail that Lund built and create a small visitor parking lot just off Squire Street.

During last week’s council meeting, town manager Jamie Burke said the land was bequeathed to the town under the Ecological Gifts Program — a federal scheme that provides tax breaks to donors. He added the town will seek approval for this first phase of improving the property from Environment Canada as soon as Sackville acquires full ownership of it.

The Lund bequest of nearly 20 acres, adjacent to the Waterfowl Park, lies between the TransCanada Highway and residences on Princess St. bounded on the southeast by Squire St. and on the northwest by the TransCanada Trail

If it approves the $15,000 in improvements, town council will be acting on the advice of the Sackville Waterfowl Park advisory committee which is planning celebrations in October to mark the park’s 3oth anniversary.

For earlier coverage, including a brief history of how the Waterfowl Park began, click here.

Lawn and order

Sackville councillors spent about 18 minutes last Tuesday discussing whether the town needs a bylaw, similar to a recent one passed in Moncton, requiring property owners to keep their lawns, weeds and grasses under 20 centimetres (eight inches) or face fines ranging from $140 to $2,100.

Councillor Joyce O’Neil brought the issue forward partly because of long dried grass at a home close to hers on Bridge Street.

“Our biggest fear out that way is that with all this dead grass, all you need is a cigarette flicked into that and the house is old, the grass has grown in underneath the verandah and to me it’s such a chance of that going up, catching on fire,” O’Neill said, adding that the lives of three small children are at risk in a house next door.

While O’Neil’s colleagues on council agreed that it might be worth discussing the issue further, Councillors Andrew Black, Megan Mitton, Michael Tower and Allison Butcher said such a bylaw isn’t necessary in Sackville.

“I know that lot of people are really bothered by long grass,” said Councillor Butcher adding that it might contribute to the presence of rodents and ticks. However, she added, there are already ticks everywhere.

“I think that a well-manicured, perfectly groomed golf course-looking lawn is environmentally really awful,” Butcher said. “It’s not good for our world, it’s not good for butterflies, it’s not good for bees.”

She said the town bylaw on unsightly premises should cover cases in which people aren’t looking after their properties.

“I think that there are lots of beautiful properties that don’t have lawns mowed and probably don’t own a lawnmower,” Butcher concluded.

In the end, CAO Phil Handrahan promised that staff would prepare a background report on the issues involved in controlling tall grass in case council wants to have further discussion about passing a bylaw to regulate it.

To listen to what was said at last week’s meeting about the issue, click here. (The discussion starts within 30 seconds of the beginning of the meeting.)

A front yard on Main St. in Middle Sackville where flowers, tall grasses, shrubbery and trees occupy most of the space

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7 Responses to Sackville moving ahead with 20-acre addition to Waterfowl Park

  1. Percy Best says:

    The biggest offender around Sackville, as far as unkempt property goes, is certainly the Town itself. Except for the downtown core, our ditches are mostly now overgrown with alders and tall grasses and other than a three foot wide ‘contracted’ annual mowing there is rarely anything done to the shoulders to improve the safety of the roads for walkers and bicyclers. There are of course some areas that do receive some attention by the whipper snipping crew but oh so much more could be done if proper larger equipment were purchased. Maybe if a good example were set, like it certainly is on Prince Edward Island, then the few that fail to keep their lawns ‘properly’ mowed would follow suit. TEACH BY EXAMPLE!

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  2. Louis says:

    Leave people alone. The “solution” is worse than the problem. Letting people do what they want on their own properties should be the strong default, to be overridden only in very extreme cases.

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  3. Louis says:

    If there absolutely must be a law to deal with very extreme cases, I would propose that it be made such that it cannot be applied without complaints from a majority of surrounding property owners. This way, it would only come into play in extreme cases, rather than creating another thing to be enforced as a revenue generator.

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  4. Rima Azar says:

    Why can’t we leave people alone? I say this and I am someone who has allergies to ragweed at the end of summers. This being said, fines between $140 and $2,100 seem to be too high, in addition to the town one day telling us it will need to budget for a “lawn enforcement officer”. If we absolutely need to act on those rare, extreme cases (dangerous grass, etc.), why don’t we do it in a simpler and cheaper way without having citizens go after their fellow citizens for complaints? For instance, a municipality staff can visit the house in question to investigate and perhaps give a friendly warning with a reasonable deadline to adhere to the request. If after this deadline, nothing is done to solve the issue, perhaps then the town (or a local contractor on its behalf) can come to cut the lawn. The invoice of this service could then be sent to the house owner. This bill would surely be much less than the fines between $140 and $2,100. Now, if the house owner cannot afford physically or financially to mow the lawn, a volunteer can perhaps help or citizens can come together to take turns in helping. Does this make any sense?

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    • C.Staples says:

      The second half of your response makes more sense than the first half…you go all over the map here, but on the whole quite reasonable with a moderate remedial suggestion…yes to more moderate fines, but we need something…good luck finding volunteers…they would rather be gathering reasons to have early-onset arthritis in their NECKS.

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      • Rima Azar says:

        Thank you C. Staples and Carole Cooke.

        I guess it all comes down to common sense, which is simply trying to be or remain a *good neighbour* by following basic lawn maintenance (as much as possible ike the rest of the close neighbours). If this is impossible for whatever health or financial reasons, solutions can be found (e.g., perhaps asking others for help or, if we can afford it, hiring a lawn service from time to time). We are lucky to have wonderful services in Sackville.

        Now, if what is described above does not work, then a chat among neighbours would have to take place. Common sense and good manners (= respecting and listening to each other). If this does not work still, the mayor or the town would have to interfere maybe? I like Louis’ suggestion: if a law is needed, this must be the last resort and only in EXTREME cases, that is by having a majority of complaints from surrounding properties. Again, common sense… the ideas I tried to suggest earlier are just quick thoughts that came to my mind (cheaper and simpler suggestions). Volunteers may be hard to find but knowing people’s generosity and concern for the environment and good quality of living, maybe not? We can perhaps encourage, thank, or compensate our volunteers for their time with a small honorarium? Could this help? Again, all this would be much less than fines up to $2,100.

        Finally, the *lawn enforcement officer* was a joke (I admit that I found myself funny in English, which is neither my first nor my second language :)). Seriously, I say this because the whole thing seems to be more like a *revenue generator* for our municipality, to use Louis’ words from his second comment. Of course, we can be wrong on this one. I hope we are!

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  5. Carol Cooke says:

    I agree with your sentiments Rima.

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