Cornwall No Mow May could extend to boulevards in 2023

In this June 2019, file photo, a boulevard on Second Street West near Westmoreland Avenue. The city's No Mow May program, which had fewer than 200 registrations in its first year, could extend to city boulevards in 2023. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – Fewer than 200 people registered with the City of Cornwall to take part in the inaugural No Mow May exercise.

The activity had residents not mow their lawn for the month in order to have food sources available for pollinators, like bees. The city planned for lawn signs for the first 100 homeowners who voluntarily registered.

Of those 192 who took part, a staff report shows that the “majority of the properties were mowed” in the final week, either because people worried about perception from neighbours or from direct or indirect peer pressure.

Part of the problem was the city wasn’t prepared ahead of time to meet demand.

“Delays in distributing the signs were due to the time constraint of starting this initiative so close to May 1 and speculation that less (sic) than 100 participants would register. Consequently, not enough signs were ordered before May 1,” wrote Angela Parker, Cornwall’s sustainability project coordinator.

The city was able to get out 150 signs by the time the program was half over.

Some participants ended up mowing their lawn early because they didn’t think they were getting a sign and were “worried about complaints from neighbours.”

A post-event survey of 105 participants shows a mixed bag of reasons for participating with 34 per cent wanting to support pollinators, 25 per cent wanted to encourage biodiversity and 19 per cent wanted to save time not mowing their grass.

About a fifth of those surveyed received complaints from neighbours.

For the city’s participation, it let some park areas and the property around the municipal works building grow out. If approved for next year, the city would like to extend the program to street boulevards.

“If approved, the utilization of roundabouts and road verges (the strips of grass located between roadways and sidewalks) will be investigated for inclusion of No Mow May in 2023,” Parker wrote.

The city would also start the program earlier in 2023 to ensure everybody who registers gets a lawn sign.

City council will receive the report on No Mow May tonight but is not expected to make any decisions.