18 February 2022

Mowing in parts of Crace 'abandoned' for years, posing risks locals say

| Damien Larkins
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Crace suburb sign in long grass

Crace locals say mowing in areas of the suburb has been let go. Photo: Damien Larkins.

Overgrown grass is a problem across the ACT, but Crace locals say areas of their suburb have been neglected for years and are posing increased health and safety risks.

An extra rainy season in late 2021 saw grass growing wild across Canberra, as ACT Government city services struggled to keep up. Local sports grounds were put out of action and drivers struggled to see through the weeds at corners and roundabouts.

But residents of the northern Canberra suburb of Crace say long grass in the suburb has been a long-running, and creeping, issue.

READ ALSO Is it time we took mowing into our own hands?

Kevin Saliba moved to Crace in 2014. About three years later he noticed areas of once well-maintained green space were becoming overgrown.

He says the frequency of mowing has decreased and some areas are being left to grow wild.

“There’s a number of areas now that aren’t being mowed at all,” he says, “some have been abandoned recently, other areas have been abandoned for a number of years – well before any issue relating to staff shortages because of COVID or because the grass is just growing very well because of the heavy rain that we’ve had.”

He says it’s having a negative effect on the lifestyle and overall look of the suburb.

“It’s definitely different to how the suburb used to look when the plots were being sold and people started moving into the suburb,” he says.

Crace memorial amongst long grass

The green space around the Crace memorial has been only partly mown. Photo: Kevin Saliba.

The suburb’s lush green spaces had been a drawcard for residents, especially those who traded smaller backyards for access to public space.

“[Residents] elected to buy smaller blocks because there was a lot of green open space, a lot of playgrounds in the suburb,” Kevin says.

“Access to a lot of these areas has been restricted because the grass is just not being mowed.”

Kevin says the long grass is reducing play areas for kids and spaces to walk dogs, and restricting access to local reserves.

“ACT Government installed ladders allowing people to climb over the fences to go for walks in the reserve,” he says. “Some of them cannot be accessed anymore because the grass has not been mowed and allowed to grow so high.”

The long grass is even encroaching on a hilltop memorial for Edward Kendall Crace, after whom the suburb is named.

While strips of grass on either side of the path have been mowed recently, there’s a large patch that’s been left to grow.

“Immediately next to the memorial … there’s grass that’s over a metre high and it really doesn’t look very nice,” Kevin says.

READ ALSO Mow money, mow problems: mowing up almost 50 per cent in wet and rainy year

It’s not just the look of the suburb that has locals concerned.

The long grass is attracting pests like snakes and spiders, and increasing fire risks.

Many houses, Kevin’s included, had to be built to incorporate bushfire safety measures but he fears now that might not be enough.

“It defeats the point if you’re going to allow the grass to grow so tall and bring it closer to the suburbs, that will increase the fire hazard,” he says.

When he started noticing the change around 2017, Kevin lodged numerous requests on the ACT’s Fix My Street site.

“Eventually they did agree to mow some of the areas, but not all of them, some of them have remained unmowed since then,” he says.

“A number of my neighbours have … called, they’ve lodged letters and, unfortunately, nothing has been done about it.”

Crace long grass overgrowing reserve ladders

If you look very closely, you almost make out the ladder into the reserve. Photo: Kevin Saliba.

He’s recently lodged more requests and has even started a petition calling for the government to address the issue.

But he’s not sure what else he can do.

“I think I’ll do small steps, I’ll take it to whoever I can at Access Canberra or the Fix My Street website and try to alert them to it,” he says.

“It’s not just a handful of people who are unhappy about this, there are almost 200 signatories on the petition.”

He says if there’s no satisfactory result, he’ll take it up with the minister if necessary.

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I have to admit I get much better mowing where I live in Deakin, compared to what we used to get back in Kambah.

The small park near me at Strickland Cr and also La Trobe park in the middle of Deakin are well mown and well maintained. Similar spaces back in Kambah were lucky to get a couple of visits from the mower a year.

People complain about building on vacant land (land that has been reserved for later development in the territory plan for as long as one cares to remember) saying building on the land ruins the bush capital character.

Government lets grass grow long it nature reserves and people complain they want it mowed, despite natural being more inline with the bush capital character.

I accept that in suburbia designated kids parklands and road reserves should be regularly mowed and kept but some of the land in question are not designated parks and should be left for nature, including snakes etc.

I’ve been mowing government land around my block for years -I make it part of my fitness routine.I find that a lot of people just wont do an inch of maintenance outside their own little domain.Attitudes should change -be prepared to do that extra bit!

We do our nature strip and some other bits of public land. The bloke near the lane way does it as well as his place
So I am with you. A retirement village whinged about the long grass on their boundary but as they have a mowing contractor would make more sense to get him to mow it as part of his job. If we bordered on a reserve I would mow along the back fence for my own fire safety instead of whinging

Don’t worry Mr Barr is very optimistic about Canberra’s post COVID economic recovery. He doesn’t operate a lawn mower you know!!! I wonder how the landscaping is going in the suburb in which he lives. As for the Greens, they are relieved that new grasslands and environs are being created in your suburbs for the Purple Haired Fruit Loop, the Golden Cabbage Moth, the Screaming Hairy Armadillo, the Striped Pyjama Squid and my old favourite, the Paradoxical Frog. It would be funny if the safety aspects weren’t so serious.

Coombs should also be added to the mowing list. All the landscaped area around the pond and overlooking the Molonglo River is a disgrace.

It’s the same around Downer – a lovely park on Fenton street that has kids play equipment is so rarely mown that it is rendered unusable – the green strip along Northbourne around Phillip Ave is not mown any longer forcing people walk dogs runners etc to use other paths – the amenities are being eroded

It was just mowed to make it look pretty for the sales. Homes are sold no point to it now.

As is mentioned probably left that way because that’s where the snakes and other native animals live.

Cheaper to invest in a nice tall pair of boots

Finagen_Freeman10:10 pm 13 Feb 22

Bloody voters. What do they expect. They’ve got a tram. They’ve got a rainbow roundabout. Heck they’ve even got the worst performing hospital in the country.

Mow lawns? Not when there’s a quid to be made selling of lakeside assets to developer mates.

I think the ACT government has given up on mowing contracts

ChrisinTurner2:11 pm 13 Feb 22

But the tram is going to Woden!

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