May 25, 2015


'Why can't you plant potatoes?'

Boulevard-upkeep conflicts have been around since 1976

Sam Bordman took a stand against boulevard mowing -- in 1976 -- but he had a different approach.

Bordman was the Aberdeen Avenue homeowner who was so upset with the city's decision to turn over boulevard maintenance to inner-city residents -- to cut $206,000 from the budget -- that he dug up the grassy rectangle in front of his home and planted potatoes.

Island Lakes resident Richard Hykawy refuses to abide by the law and mow the boulevard at the side of his property, saying it's an infringement of his rights.


Island Lakes resident Richard Hykawy refuses to abide by the law and mow the boulevard at the side of his property, saying it's an infringement of his rights. Photo Store

"If there's any impropriety here, it rests with the city," Bordman told a Free Press reporter at the time.

"For years they came and cut the boulevards, week after week, whether it needed it or not... now they want me to do it and I did it the most efficient way possible," he added, pointing at the potato plants in his boulevard.

But the article also states that while inner-city residents had their boulevards maintained by the city for decades, suburban residents always had the responsibility.

Now, homeowner Richard Hykawy is refusing to mow his boulevard. Hykawy's court case was adjourned Friday to Aug. 22.

Hykawy has already replaced the lawn on his property with rocks and gravel, and in recent days the grass on the boulevard beside his house unexpectedly turned brown and died.

Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface), who represents Island Lakes, said the majority of city residents take care of the boulevards adjacent to their properties.

"If the city maintained every boulevard in Winnipeg there would be an incredible increase in staff needed and taxes would go up," Vandal said.

"I don't think it is unreasonable for homeowners to take care of their boulevards even though it is city property."

But Coun. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre), who was first elected four years after Bordman's battle, said he believes Hykawy has a point.

He said the bylaw is too restrictive.

"I've got people in Wolseley where they (bylaw officers) have issued orders. One person had planted prairie grasses and they want them to get rid of it because it is too high. I want to change the bylaw.

"Why can't you plant potatoes if you want to?"

Dave Domke, the city's manager of parks and open spaces division, said the city does maintain some boulevards. "If you're on a regional street, we'll still maintain it. Or if the boulevard is wider than 20 feet, we'll maintain it."

Domke said the city has received less than a handful of complaints about boulevard upkeep.

"There's a vested interest for people to maintain the area by their residences," he said.

As for not letting potatoes grow on boulevards, Domke says it's a safety issue.

"The condition of the soil in boulevards, with the salt and sand we put on them, we don't know if it is safe (to grow vegetables)."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 8, 2013 B1

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