3 May 2022

Long grass topped Canberrans' concerns last year (even beating potholes)

| Lottie Twyford
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Grass at the Barton Highway/Gold Creek intersection

Long grass around Canberra last year led many to take matters into their own hands. Photo: John Miller.

It seems long grass was the bane of many Canberrans’ existence last year – so much so that 16,920 requests for assistance with grass, trees and shrubs were submitted via the Fix My Street portal.

A total of 46,831 requests were lodged to Fix My Street in the 2021 calendar year.

Potholes and anything else related to roads, parking and vehicles came in second place with 13,987 requests for assistance.

Both of these categories were significantly busier than all others which covered items such as cycle and footpaths (5486) and parks and public spaces (4853), streetlights (4232), and stormwater, lakes, ponds and waterways (1353).

Requests relating to grass gathered steam towards the end of the year as unusually wet weather due to a La Niña event threw the government’s mowing schedule weeks off course.

Complaints about long, out-of-control grass abounded as motorists complained they could not see over overgrown verges and roundabouts, and local sports grounds were forced out of action.

Tractor mowing grass

Staying on top of the mowing program proved difficult last year as wet weather hung around. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

According to Fix My Street, in October, November and December there were 1995, 2903 and 2204 issues lodged, respectively. This compares with 876, 986 and 1302 in each of the winter months.

Explanations or “excuses” for the delay in mowing were repeatedly derided by an Opposition unwilling to cut the government any slack in the dying months of 2021.

Canberra Liberals MLAs repeatedly called on the government to surge resources and funding to the mowing program.

But Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel argued staying on top of the mowing was already a high priority, but even the government could not control the rain.

However, Region Media spoke to many intrepid Canberrans who were simply fed up with waiting and decided to take matters into their own hands and mowed around their own suburbs.

Requests for assistance in the roads, parking and vehicles category remained relatively steady across the year.

READ ALSO Weston black spot among four ACT sites to get $3.1 million road funding

The dataset provided by TCCS does not differentiate further in that category, although it’s likely many of these were related to potholes – another phenomenon exacerbated by the rain.

But another dataset provided to Region Media last year showed that the government repaired 6375 potholes during the 2020-21 financial year. In June 2021 alone, it had repaired more than 500 potholes on the Territory’s roads. A total of 3297 reports of pothole-related enquiries were submitted through Fix My Street in that financial year.

Early this year, the issue of pothole management also came to the attention of the Opposition, which called on the ACT Government to get to work on fixing them.

Last financial year, the top issue for Canberrans was streetlights, followed closely by potholes.


Potholes are often reported via the ACT Government’s Fix My Street portal. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

A spokesperson for the ACT Government said all requests lodged to the portal are triaged with public safety as the highest priority.

“Where issues are not urgent, they may be programmed into larger packages of works to enable them to be addressed more cost-efficiently (for example, path replacement, asphalt works),” they said.

Examples of prioritised issues include reports of sharps, line-of-sight issues on roadsides, fallen trees, traffic signal faults, road safety or trip hazards on paths.

On average, TCCS manages an average of 40,000 maintenance requests a year and it took 52.2 days on average for matters reported via the ACT Government’s Fix My Street portal last year to be resolved, Mr Steel confirmed last month.

The Fix My Street portal allows people to submit requests both anonymously or logged in with their ACT Digital Account so the request can be tracked.

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Hi. Mowing is needed in places, for driver visibility, protection from grass fires and so on. Some people see mown grass as ‘neat’. However mowing costs – both financially and more importantly ecologically. All sorts of life, insects, birds, lizards and more, need flowers and grass for food and shelter. The photo at the top of the article shows a mower in an area that does not need mowing. Maybe for a meter or two at the edge of the bitumen, but definitely not in the middle of the median strip. Mowing there is an expensive way of creating sterile country. That area could be grass, trees, understory, supporting life, biodiversity, storing carbon and cooling the surrounding area.

The local City Council does not have the resources to properly service a town of almost 470000 people. A result of chasing the rate payer dollars with rapid population growth and now updating the aging infrastructure without the deep pockets of the Commonwealth pre 1989. The consequences are now obvious.

The boring municipal services function that ACT residents want as the highest priority gets lost in the more fancy and fun issues Ministers like to pursue. And the ACT basically only votes one way so they get to do what they want. Ironically, as it gets cooler, the public walkway areas near us have just been mown properly for the first time in over a year

I’ts pretty crook when you see members of the public shoving stuff in potholes in an effort to help fix them. How long was the average wait for a pothole fix by the ACT gov – over 50 days. That’s terrible.

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