#18: Healthy Communities maintain greenspaces with the environment in mind.

The Brandon ACC North Campus – A Case Study in Unsustainable Maintenance

In my travels at ACC I noticed that maintenance staff are using gas powered machinery to mow acres and acres of space for no apparent reason – other than to make it look postcard good – in the eyes of people who don’t seem to understand that our mania for manicured lawns is a factor in climate change. And just wasteful and stupid besides.

Am I the only one who found it odd to see staff using gas powered weed whippers to tidy up the rocks around the “Sustainable Greenhouse”.

Here a worker is lovingly maintaining a ditch, after properly weed whipping around the trees on a multi acre greenspace that no one ever visits.

Not that his time couldn’t have been put to good use pulling a few weeds and picking up garbage near the Trades Building where people actually go.
I’ve seen staff take an all-terrain sort of vehicle out to the Graveyard located a kilometre down the road – just to check I guess.

Just to provide a picture of the scale of the lawn care efforts, note the following on the Google Earth view...

The ACC North Campus covers and area of about 20 of Brandon's city blocks. At last count there were about 220 students. Less that about 20 percent of the property is being used for educational purposes, including parking and immediate lawn space.

Locations: 1 (Trades) , 2 ( Culinary Arts and some Admin)  3 (Sustainable Greenhouse) 4 (Garden)

Meticulous lawn care is also provided for many areas that are far removed from any educational activitiy. Area 5 is an orchard used maninly by deer but mowed and kept tidy for them. Area 6 is a beautiful open space, also kept shorn. Area 7 is mainly let grow except for trails and inexplicable patches here and there. Plot 8 is the site of a former barn, kept mowed for no apparennt reason.  A treed plot (#9) is not only completely mowed but they weed whip arounf the trees! The same is true for plot #10. The grounds and sidwwalks around two buildings (11) as yet unused (for 15 years now) is lovingly maintained.

One can only estimate the time spent, the gasoline wasted, the CO2 emitted to maintain these grounds.

These are blatant signs of a lack of environmental sensitivity – something I have witnessed across our city - unnecessary mowing, use of gas powered  machinery, watering the lawns in the summer heat, or on Oct 12, or in the middle of an extended rainfall.

At the root – there is always the same problem. Staff and management that aren’t really on board with this whole environment thing. They just want to do what they’ve always done. The grass is mowed because the staff understands mowing grass. They seem to like mowing grass. They’ve always mowed grass.

What Can Be Done?

We need the management of this and all government funded projects to be compelled to develop some environmental smarts. We to have everyone involved to learn to filter all activity through the environmental checklist test. It starts at the top.