Nick Barnes

Nick Barnes

Whyte Ridge community correspondent

Nick Barnes is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

Recent articles of Nick Barnes

Memories of Guy Fawkes Night

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Memories of Guy Fawkes Night

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022

I hope you all had a happy Halloween. My childhood memories of the biggest fall community event in England weren’t of Halloween, but of Guy Fawkes Night. Also known as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night, Nov. 5 was a night that neighborhood children looked forward to almost as much as Christmas.

About 50 years ago, health and safety regulations weren’t as strict as today, and Guy Fawkes events were typically organized by families living on the same street. The focal point was the building of a massive bonfire in a designated back yard. One of the biggest excitements was fireworks, and I recall saving my pocket money for weeks prior to the event to buy that special firework and discussing options with the other kids on the street. We also had fun building a “Guy” — an effigy made from old clothes stitched together and filled with paper and straw. Some children took the Guy door-to-door, asking for donations to help buy the fireworks.

On the night of the event, families would gather at the designated house and bring cocoa, soup, and various refreshments. I remember my mother wrapping potatoes in aluminum foil and placing them in the bonfire embers to cook. With the fire ablaze, sparklers were handed out and parents opened the carefully stored fireworks and let them off in the yard one by one. Tons of fun!

At the time, I never really thought about why we celebrated the event. It was just great to have fun with the neighbours.

Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2022

Supplied photo

A bonfire burns on Guy Fawkes Night, a traditional celebration commemorating a foiled plot to kill King James I.

Plenty of upgrades and changes in our area

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Plenty of upgrades and changes in our area

Nick Barnes 2 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

Several noteworthy developments in Whyte Ridge that are either currently underway or starting in the fall.

Construction of the spray pad at Whyte Ridge Community Centre began on July 18 with site services and grading. The concrete will be poured in September, with construction scheduled to be completed in October, ready for the kids to enjoy next June.

Other projects being planned include the installation of benches, trees and hopefully asphalting of the paths next year, and it was great to see the Trans-Canada Trail signs installed on the interpretive trail. Tree installation will likely tap into the federal funding provided this year for tree planting. The $7.3 million from the federal budget will be used to expand Winnipeg’s urban forest renewal program over the next few years, for boulevards, active transport pathways, parks, and native woodlands and forests.

There are several projects occurring outside the community centre. As reported previously, traffic lights will be installed at several locations along McGillivray Boulevard, including at McCreary Road, with a crosswalk being planned near Front Street — likely co-ordinated with the new Buffalo Crossing facility planned for the south end of Fort Whyte Alive. A left-turn signal will be installed at the intersection of Kenaston Common Drive and McGillivray, to reduce frustration for drivers and improving traffic flow and safety in the area.

Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022

The new spray pad at Whyte Ridge Community Centre is slated to be finished by October.

Spray pad soon to be under construction

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Spray pad soon to be under construction

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Wednesday, May. 25, 2022

With the recent award of the construction contract, Whyte Ridge Community Centre just passed another exciting milestone on the road to receiving Winnipeg’s 24th spray pad, providing a fun place for kids to play on a hot sunny day.

Decisions regarding funding allocation were made by all three levels of government several months ago and include $375,000 from the PrairiesCan and the Canada Community Revitalization fund, $400,000 from the Canada Community Building fund, and $225,000 from the City of Winnipeg. Since last year, Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West), and MP Terry Duguid (Winnipeg South) have played key roles in advocating for bringing a spray pad to young families in this part of Winnipeg, with more recent support from new Fort Whyte MLA Obby Khan.

For those not familiar, spray pads are basically areas with non-slip or safety surfaces with various nozzles and colourful, water-based toys that produce sprays, mists, showers or streams of water. They differ from traditional wading pools, which don’t have all the toys, must be supervised due to standing water, and have reduced accessibility and hours of service each season.

Planning and design of the WRCC splash pad has been under way for several months, and WRCC directors have been working with a landscape architect and various city departments to provide input into the process. Initial discussions focused on a location which addressed aspects such as visibility, drainage, distance to water and electrical services, noise and distance to residences, parking and vehicle safety. The location needed to be close to the building. A site to the north was less visible and water and electrical servicing would be more expensive. A site to the southwest of the building was close to residents on Cloverwood Road and would require reconfiguring the parking lot. The only logical place was the southeast corner of the property, between the east hockey pen and basketball court. Unfortunately, this was the target location for the proposed gymnasium, but rising costs have reduced its viability, and more modest building expansions are now being explored.

Wednesday, May. 25, 2022

A spray pad similar to this one in Linden Woods will soon be under construction at Whyte Ridge Community Centre.

Working to be the centre of the community again

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Working to be the centre of the community again

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Wednesday, Apr. 6, 2022

As we all likely know, the main purpose of community centres is to bring neighbours together to enjoy sports and recreation activities. Like many other venues for social gatherings, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affect the ability of community centres to serve their primary purpose.

April 11 is the date of the 2022 annual general meeting of Whyte Ridge Community Centre. Last year I reported that the board of directors was transitioning through a difficult period, with the loss of most of the executive and with COVID-19 constraints affecting almost all activities.

After a post-AGM meeting last year to discuss how to get things moving forward again, Kim O’Hara stepped in as president, with Chris Magura serving as vice-president. Both have been volunteers on the board for many years, working tirelessly in the background to help to get things done, and both decided that it was time to take a turn at the helm and begin to get organized for when residents could once again enjoy the community centre. Kim says her goal is to help energize the community centre and reconnect with the community it serves.

A big focus over the past year has been fundraising to improve the facility in anticipation of hosting activities this yea (assuming that COVID-19 issues will be manageable). The Pembina Active Living 55-plus group has settled into the building and much of the interior space has or will soon be renovated. Funding was also secured to renovate the building exterior and hockey pens, as well as to construct a splash pad this year, which is very exciting. The community centre has also applied for funding for several landscaping projects, and this year will also see the completion of the new segment of native prairie and installation of Trans Canada Trail signs for the interpretive trail.

Wednesday, Apr. 6, 2022

Whyte Ridge Community Centre is gearing up to hopefully be as busy as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The true meaning of Valentine’s Day

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The true meaning of Valentine’s Day

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Friday, Feb. 25, 2022

As we all know, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love, and in this time of pandemic, it was nice to focus on something good and positive for a while. However, when I looked into it more closely, I discovered that the origins of Valentine’s Day involves far more than chocolates and roses.

The event is a blend of Christian and pagan celebrations that dates back more than 1,500 years. From a Christian perspective, the Feast of Saint Valentine on Feb. 14 was established to celebrate the death of Saint Valentine of Rome, one of several Christian martyrs of the same name who were executed by the Romans. Not a particularly romantic start to the event we celebrate today...

There seems to be general consensus that the more overt connection to love occurred about a thousand years later, when Geoffrey Chaucer (author of The Canterbury Tales) described the February Feast of Saint Valentine as the time when birds began their spring mating rituals (hence “lovebirds”). Apparently, members of European nobility picked up on this, and the tradition of sending love notes began at around this time. With the invention of the printing press and the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700s, love notes became Valentine’s Day cards that could be mass-produced. The tradition followed North American settlers in the mid-1800s, with Hallmark Cards getting on board in 1913.

The tradition of giving roses on Valentine’s Day may “stem” from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and her apparent love of this flower, or perhaps the British adoption (and interpretation) in the 1700s of a Turkish process of assigning symbolic meanings to types of flowers as a way of communicating with love interests.

Friday, Feb. 25, 2022

Dreaamstime.com
The origins of Valentine’s Day as we know it are varied and based in several traditions.

Coping with COVID-19 in 2022

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Coping with COVID-19 in 2022

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022

At the end of each year there’s definitely value in taking some time to reflect on the year that has passed and to plan for the upcoming 12 months; however, over the past two years COVID-19 has greatly affected this process.

It’s hard not to dwell on all the things we weren’t able to do last year, and likely won’t be able to do for much of the upcoming year. I don’t know about you but I find that many discussions focus on what we used to do, and what we hope to do once we can travel without restrictions. While I’m sure we’ll eventually get through this, it can be frustrating and mentally draining.

I recalled taking a course on “mindfulness” a few years ago, and wondered if there was anything that could be applied to our current situation. I took the course to help with the stresses of managing complex projects with big budgets and tight schedules. I was working long hours and not really thinking of anything outside of work.

While the course involved meditation and perspectives from people such as Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra, one of the real benefits was developing a sense of mindfulness — focusing on experiencing and enjoying what’s in front of you, rather than worrying about the past or future. My course homework was to keep a daily journal, recording all of the positive and interesting things that happened to me each day.

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022

Being mindful and focusing on the here and now will help keep you from falling into a pit of worry over COVID-19 and the future.

Celebrating our cultural diversity

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Celebrating our cultural diversity

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021

On Dec. 5, the Whyte Ridge Community Centre board of directors and Pembina Active Living 55-plus co-hosted a celebration of cultural diversity at the WRCC. More than 70 people attended the event and there was traditional music, dancing and food from Chinese, Russian and Iranian cultures. Winnipeg South MP Terry Duguid and Waverley West city councillor Janice Lukes were also in attendance.

The event was unfortunately cancelled last year owing to COVID 19, but it was great to repeat the successful inaugural celebration of 2019. Hopefully, this will be a regular occurrence at the community centre, as it’s something quite new, and different from other sports and recreation events hosted at the facility.

I spoke with Shahin Shooshtari, the WRCC diversity director, to get some background on her position on the board, and the cultural event that she organized. She immigrated from Iran in 1996 to take her PhD at the University of Manitoba and moved to Whyte Ridge with her young family in 2002. She explained that it was challenging for newcomers, for whom English is a second language, to become integrated with the community. While she registered her children in sports, she wasn’t aware of the potential for other activities until recently.

Her feelings about the various ways to reconnect with culture were likely fostered during her work with the Iranian Community of Manitoba organization, which she helped establish in 2008.

Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021

Photo by Nick Barnes
The Whyte Ridge Community Centre co-hosted a cultural diversity event with PAL 55-plus on Dec. 5 at the WRCC.

Changes ahead for McGillivray traffic flow

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Changes ahead for McGillivray traffic flow

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Friday, Nov. 26, 2021

There was some great news recently for Whyte Ridge residents wanting to cross McGillivray Boulevard.

Over the past few decades, residential and commercial development has resulted in increased traffic that has made it increasingly difficult to turn left from Brady Road and access the south entrance of FortWhyte Alive.

In addition to the stress and delay of waiting for a break in traffic to cross, the situation has become an increasing safety hazard. In a recent chat, Waverley West city councillor Janice Lukes confirmed that measures are moving forward to deal with this issue, starting next year.

In addition to a new set of traffic lights being installed at the South Landing industrial park (about 1.5 kilometres to the west of Brady Road), a new set of lights is being installed on McGillivray at McCreary Road.

Friday, Nov. 26, 2021

There was some great news recently for Whyte Ridge residents wanting to cross McGillivray Boulevard.

Over the past few decades, residential and commercial development has resulted in increased traffic that has made it increasingly difficult to turn left from Brady Road and access the south entrance of FortWhyte Alive.

In addition to the stress and delay of waiting for a break in traffic to cross, the situation has become an increasing safety hazard. In a recent chat, Waverley West city councillor Janice Lukes confirmed that measures are moving forward to deal with this issue, starting next year.

In addition to a new set of traffic lights being installed at the South Landing industrial park (about 1.5 kilometres to the west of Brady Road), a new set of lights is being installed on McGillivray at McCreary Road.

Purple loosestrife: here to stay?

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Purple loosestrife: here to stay?

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Tuesday, Sep. 28, 2021

Cycling through the community a few weeks ago, I was struck by how attractive the flowers were at and around the retention ponds.

Having watched them grow over the summer I wondered why they were still there, because I knew they were purple loosestrife, something I thought was classified as a noxious weed requiring control. While waiting for a call back from the city’s naturalist services branch, I did some research on the plant.

Purple loosestrife is native to Europe and Asia, and likely came to North America accidentally in the ballast water of a ship about 220 years ago, during the European colonization of this continent. Two key things make it a problem - high reproduction and no natural predators. It grows and germinates quickly, with adult plants producing more than 2.5 million seeds annually. In its native habitat (it prefers wetlands or riversides) it provides food for more than 100 species of insects that control its population, as well as deer, muskrats, rabbits and several bird species (excluding waterfowl).

In Manitoba, regional impacts to wetland and riparian areas began in the 1930s as purple loosestrife out-competed native plant species, and in the 1990s it was listed under the provincial noxious weeds act, which required actions to control its spread.

Tuesday, Sep. 28, 2021

Photo by Nick Barnes
Purple loosestrife’s high reproduction rate and the fact it has no natural predators means it’s hard to control.

Big plans in the works for community centre

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Big plans in the works for community centre

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Friday, Aug. 27, 2021

Friday the 13th of August was a positive step forward, rather than a day of bad luck, for the Whyte Ridge Community Centre.

It was the first on-site planning session for the Splash Pad. The landscape architect has been retained to start the design, and staff from several city departments, the community centre president and site development director walked the site and discussed possible locations. Issues included access to water, washrooms, drainage, distance to residences, parking, safety, and co-ordination with existing infrastructure and other development plans. Given the type of summer we’ve had, it will likely be a welcome addition to the community centre next year, if all goes to plan.

It’s been a reasonably productive planning period for the community centre. The Pembina Active Living (PAL 55+) group is poised to move into the building this fall, and plans have been developed to convert one of the changing rooms to a meeting room, and some of the open space into a small office. Summer students have been working hard to spruce up the hockey pens and residents have offered to help with some of the maintenance tasks. Maintenance will likely also include replacing the hockey viewing windows and repairing stucco from puck damage, and maybe a new coat of exterior paint to freshen up the building. The new area of tall grass prairie was seeded this spring, but has been struggling to cope with the hot dry weather.

A site development Wish List is underway and City staff and Councillor Lukes have been assisting with ideas and cost estimates. The PAL 55+ group has also provided initial ideas. Details will likely be shared on the community centre website, but so far, short-term items include benches for the teams using the soccer fields, portable basketball hoops for the east hockey pen, a flower garden at the Cloverwood entrance to the site, and more trees, including about 10 (either silver maple or green ash) to fill in the spaces between the elm trees. Longer-term projects could include asphalting the pathways and rinks, a small external storage facility, a community vegetable garden, and a portable (trailer-based) water tank, to water the plants at the north end of the site.

Friday, Aug. 27, 2021

Despite COVID, exciting times are ahead

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Despite COVID, exciting times are ahead

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Tuesday, May. 18, 2021

The Whyte Ridge Community Centre is going through a transition.

It often happens with volunteer organizations, every four or five years. New board members join and inject fresh enthusiasm and ideas and reshape things, and if they’re lucky and plan well, they develop momentum and attract more new members and enjoy success and accomplishments for several years.

However, over time, work, children and dozens of other commitments make it tougher to maintain the momentum. Enthusiasm wanes, board members leave, and the small core group that remains faces increasing stress in trying to keep things going. This final phase is much more real for many community centre boards as a result of COVID-19, particularly when some board members are struggling to manage their own businesses during this time.

The core purpose of community centres is to bring the community together to share positive sports and recreation experiences. For the past year or so this has largely not been possible. Several have managed to maintain some outdoor programming, but for many, the doors have been closed to most residents. For larger community centres that rely on indoor programming to pay the bills, this has been particularly hard. Recent further restrictions have reduced some of the outdoor programming. Whyte Ridge Community Centre has not had the scale of issue as the large community centres have had, but it has been challenging.

Tuesday, May. 18, 2021

The Whyte Ridge Community Centre is going through a transition.

It often happens with volunteer organizations, every four or five years. New board members join and inject fresh enthusiasm and ideas and reshape things, and if they’re lucky and plan well, they develop momentum and attract more new members and enjoy success and accomplishments for several years.

However, over time, work, children and dozens of other commitments make it tougher to maintain the momentum. Enthusiasm wanes, board members leave, and the small core group that remains faces increasing stress in trying to keep things going. This final phase is much more real for many community centre boards as a result of COVID-19, particularly when some board members are struggling to manage their own businesses during this time.

The core purpose of community centres is to bring the community together to share positive sports and recreation experiences. For the past year or so this has largely not been possible. Several have managed to maintain some outdoor programming, but for many, the doors have been closed to most residents. For larger community centres that rely on indoor programming to pay the bills, this has been particularly hard. Recent further restrictions have reduced some of the outdoor programming. Whyte Ridge Community Centre has not had the scale of issue as the large community centres have had, but it has been challenging.

Cultural awareness in Whyte Ridge

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Cultural awareness in Whyte Ridge

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2021

I was contacted recently by Shirley Delorme Russell, asking if I could give her a tour of the Whyte Ridge Interpretive Trail, and in particular, the provincial plaque describing the Stopping of the Survey historic event. It was a cold, windy morning when we visited the site, but educational for both of us.

Shirley is an instructor of Métis culture and history with the Louis Riel Institute. The Stopping of the Survey was an important event in Manitoba; in 1869, Louis Riel stopped federal surveyors from identifying lands to be annexed by the Dominion of Canada, one of the first actions leading to Manitoba joining Confederation.

The event happened fairly close to the plaque location, and Shirley was anxious to see it in preparation for sessions she will be leading for Whyte Ridge Elementary School Grade 4 classes.

Shirley explained that the Louis Riel Institute is regularly invited to schools, universities and various organizations to present on Métis culture and history in Manitoba.

Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2021

Supplied photo
Shirley Delorme Russell, an instructor of Metis culture and history with the Louis Riel Institute, pictured at the Stopping the Survey plaque on the Whyte Ridge Interpretive Trail.

A different kind of service at 201 Scurfield

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A different kind of service at 201 Scurfield

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Friday, Feb. 19, 2021

At almost 30 years old, the building at 201 Scurfield Blvd. is one of the oldest in Whyte Ridge. It was built to house the Whyte Ridge Baptist Church, and for more than a quarter century it served the religious needs of many members of the community.

On Jan. 18, the building began once again providing community services - but now of a medical nature, rather than religious.

The church has relocated to a new facility on McGillivray Boulevard, so 201 Scurfield is now the home of the Scurfield Medical Centre. I sat down recently with Dr. Paul Cheung, who established the clinic, and is at the core of its planning and development process.

Dr. Cheung and I share the common experience of attending high school in England before moving to Canada with parents. His family located to B.C. and he completed his undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. His medical training included doctorate and post-doctorate research in virology and heart diseases at UBC and the University of Manitoba, and cardiac surgery and family medicine residency at the U of M.

Friday, Feb. 19, 2021

Supplied photo
The Scurfield Medical Centre opened last month in the building that was once home to the Whyte Ridge Baptist Church.

Time flies when we’re… getting older

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Time flies when we’re… getting older

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Friday, Oct. 16, 2020

I was cleaning out a closet recently and came across the Jan. 1, 2000 issue of the Winnipeg Free Press. Skimming through the articles. I found it hard to believe that some of these events occurred 20 years ago.

It seems the older I get the quicker time seems to pass. Weeks, months and years just seem to fly by. I looked into this concept and there’s actually a fair amount of literature available. The most common theory is that when we’re young we’re bombarded by new experiences — lots of “firsts,” whereas when we’re older we’re typically structured into familiar routines with much less happening on a regular basis. It seems that fewer events to recall means that we have fewer memory bookmarks to track the passage of time.

If you’re still interested after that depressing news, here’s how things looked 20 years ago:

In January, 2000, global economies were breathing a sigh of relief that there was no Y2K computer bug that would shut everything down. Gary Doer’s NDP party had recently taken over from Gary Filmon’s Conservatives. Russian President Boris Yeltsin had just “resigned,” paving the way for Vladimir Putin to take over. Winnipeg’s main hockey team, the Manitoba Moose, beat the Utah Grizzlies 3-2 in overtime, and movies playing at the cinema included Toy Story 2 and The Green Mile.

Friday, Oct. 16, 2020

I was cleaning out a closet recently and came across the Jan. 1, 2000 issue of the Winnipeg Free Press. Skimming through the articles. I found it hard to believe that some of these events occurred 20 years ago.

It seems the older I get the quicker time seems to pass. Weeks, months and years just seem to fly by. I looked into this concept and there’s actually a fair amount of literature available. The most common theory is that when we’re young we’re bombarded by new experiences — lots of “firsts,” whereas when we’re older we’re typically structured into familiar routines with much less happening on a regular basis. It seems that fewer events to recall means that we have fewer memory bookmarks to track the passage of time.

If you’re still interested after that depressing news, here’s how things looked 20 years ago:

In January, 2000, global economies were breathing a sigh of relief that there was no Y2K computer bug that would shut everything down. Gary Doer’s NDP party had recently taken over from Gary Filmon’s Conservatives. Russian President Boris Yeltsin had just “resigned,” paving the way for Vladimir Putin to take over. Winnipeg’s main hockey team, the Manitoba Moose, beat the Utah Grizzlies 3-2 in overtime, and movies playing at the cinema included Toy Story 2 and The Green Mile.

A tale of algae and public pushback

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A tale of algae and public pushback

Nick Barnes 5 minute read Friday, Aug. 14, 2020

As part of an effort to develop a multi-year balanced budget the City of Winnipeg’s 2020 fiscal plan removed the funds to operate the 12 fountains and lights at retention ponds for the next four years, including the two located in Whyte Ridge. Each fountain costs just under $7,000 a year to run. Based on considerable negative public and political outcry, councillors approved a motion to reopen the fountains at the July 23 city council meeting, using unspent funds from other areas. Here’s some background information about this issue.The fountain in the east pond at Scurfield Park was one of the first features constructed in Whyte Ridge in 1986, and was a big part of the marketing to draw residents to the subdivision, as was the fountain in the west pond at Leon Bell Park, when it was constructed in 1990, as part of the second phase of development. During the spring thaw or heavy rainfall events, the drainage ditch can back up and allow fish to enter the ponds, and there is a fairly diverse invertebrate and fish population in the ponds, which attract interesting birds such as pelicans and loons.Fertilizers used on lawns, storm water runoff from streets,and the presence of geese creates high nutrient conditions in the ponds, causing algae to grow, as we’re currently experiencing with the hot summer weather we’ve had. This affects the capacity of the ponds to function effectively and causes unpleasant odours. The City uses a small barge-mounted harvester to remove algae every one to two years.There is no doubt that the fountains play a role in reducing problems with algae and mosquitoes, but not sufficient to effectively manage these issues, given the total surface areas. Physical removal is effective, but only a short-term solution. Herbicides are more effective, but can affect the fish and birds using the ponds, as well as thirsty dogs. Aeration of the ponds with diffuser piping would stimulate the decomposition of the algae and be beneficial to fish; however, installation and operation costs would need to be compared to the current program. The most effective mechanism to reduce the algae problem is to create a natural buffer around the ponds to reduce the amount of lawn fertilizer and runoff from entering the ponds. It would also serve to deter the geese. Newer retention ponds incorporate this more naturalized look.Regardless of the role the fountains play in controlling algae, I think it’s important not to downplay the esthetic value they have to Whyte Ridge residents, and we’re pleased that we can continue to enjoy them. Nick Barnes is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

As part of an effort to develop a multi-year balanced budget the City of Winnipeg’s 2020 fiscal plan removed the funds to operate the 12 fountains and lights at retention ponds for the next four years, including the two located in Whyte Ridge. 

Each fountain costs just under $7,000 a year to run. Based on considerable negative public and political outcry, councillors approved a motion to reopen the fountains at the July 23 city council meeting, using unspent funds from other areas. 

Here’s some background information about this issue.The fountain in the east pond at Scurfield Park was one of the first features constructed in Whyte Ridge in 1986, and was a big part of the marketing to draw residents to the subdivision, as was the fountain in the west pond at Leon Bell Park, when it was constructed in 1990, as part of the second phase of development. 

Friday, Aug. 14, 2020

Photo by Nick Barnes
Whyte Ridge residents were successful in their efforts to get fountains running again in the area’s retention ponds.

Neighbourhood projects get going

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Neighbourhood projects get going

Nick Barnes 2 minute read Friday, Jul. 10, 2020

As you can imagine, it’s been challenging to write about community activities in the past few months, with other priorities to be concerned about, but there have been some recent developments.

For example, it’s great to see work underway on the pathways at Scurfield Park. The park was part of the first phase of development of the community in 1986 and has been in need of a facelift for a while. This is a continuation of work begun last year, which also included replacing the Whyte Ridge sign at the corner of Scurfield and Columbia boulevards.

According to Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West), the focus this year will be to upgrade the lighting and install gravel surfaces, with asphalt resurfacing next year.

Several trees that were removed due to their roots creating safety hazards, and a new row of trees will be planted along a new section of pathway to Prospect Road.

Friday, Jul. 10, 2020

Photo by Nick Barnes
Work is underway on the pathways in Scurfield Park.

COVID-19 and our community

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COVID-19 and our community

Nick Barnes 6 minute read Wednesday, Apr. 15, 2020

Since taking on the job of community correspondent, I’ve always tried to write about topics that relate to our area. I’ve been carrying a few ideas around to write about, but with what has now become so central to our daily lives, it’s difficult to write about most topics and I feel a need to share my thoughts about the pandemic that we’re all experiencing.Some news media can sensationalize events but in this case it’s tough to downplay the facts. We’re constantly bombarded with bleak prospects, theories and rumours, and it’s hard not to become emotionally overwhelmed by it all. There’s no denying that these are worrying times, and we’re experiencing profound changes to our community.Outside of the family, the community is the basic building block that forms the foundation of society. Events over the past month or so serve to remind us of how fragile this structure is — the rules and policies that facilitate efficient co-operation among large groups of people. Sports, music, religion — even eating — have all evolved to allow us to enjoy life together. School, jobs and money have evolved to help us do this better.And now, for a while, those things are gone — or drastically altered — and many of us find ourselves at home with our families trying to restructure things until we get through this.I’m really struggling with the term “social distancing.” I understand the importance of physical distancing during this period but I really hope it doesn’t further erode how we interact in the long term. I’ve written previously how the use of technology has massively reshaped society over the past few decades. This includes more efficient modes of transportation that can take us (and our medical conditions) from one end of the world to another in less than a day, but it also includes modes of communication that don’t require us to be face to face. While I’ve expressed concerns about some of the downsides of communication technology, it’s at times like these that we can be so grateful for them. While physically separated we can, in most cases, stay socially connected. Many workplaces and school curricula have taken advantage of communication technology to help cope with home-based life, and it provides an essential way to stay connected with family and friends — particularly those who are more vulnerable or directly impacted.  It’s likely that some of these changes will be long-term, and some possibly permanent.However, I’m confident we’ll get through this period, and I look forward to when we can get back to a place where we can enjoy each other in the same space — in churches, arenas, restaurants and community centres. I hope you and your family remain safe and healthy during this difficult time.Nick Barnes is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

Since taking on the job of community correspondent, I’ve always tried to write about topics that relate to our area. I’ve been carrying a few ideas around to write about, but with what has now become so central to our daily lives, it’s difficult to write about most topics and I feel a need to share my thoughts about the pandemic that we’re all experiencing.

Some news media can sensationalize events but in this case it’s tough to downplay the facts. We’re constantly bombarded with bleak prospects, theories and rumours, and it’s hard not to become emotionally overwhelmed by it all. There’s no denying that these are worrying times, and we’re experiencing profound changes to our community.

Outside of the family, the community is the basic building block that forms the foundation of society. Events over the past month or so serve to remind us of how fragile this structure is — the rules and policies that facilitate efficient co-operation among large groups of people. Sports, music, religion — even eating — have all evolved to allow us to enjoy life together. School, jobs and money have evolved to help us do this better.

Wednesday, Apr. 15, 2020

Since taking on the job of community correspondent, I’ve always tried to write about topics that relate to our area. I’ve been carrying a few ideas around to write about, but with what has now become so central to our daily lives, it’s difficult to write about most topics and I feel a need to share my thoughts about the pandemic that we’re all experiencing.Some news media can sensationalize events but in this case it’s tough to downplay the facts. We’re constantly bombarded with bleak prospects, theories and rumours, and it’s hard not to become emotionally overwhelmed by it all. There’s no denying that these are worrying times, and we’re experiencing profound changes to our community.Outside of the family, the community is the basic building block that forms the foundation of society. Events over the past month or so serve to remind us of how fragile this structure is — the rules and policies that facilitate efficient co-operation among large groups of people. Sports, music, religion — even eating — have all evolved to allow us to enjoy life together. School, jobs and money have evolved to help us do this better.And now, for a while, those things are gone — or drastically altered — and many of us find ourselves at home with our families trying to restructure things until we get through this.I’m really struggling with the term “social distancing.” I understand the importance of physical distancing during this period but I really hope it doesn’t further erode how we interact in the long term. I’ve written previously how the use of technology has massively reshaped society over the past few decades. This includes more efficient modes of transportation that can take us (and our medical conditions) from one end of the world to another in less than a day, but it also includes modes of communication that don’t require us to be face to face. While I’ve expressed concerns about some of the downsides of communication technology, it’s at times like these that we can be so grateful for them. While physically separated we can, in most cases, stay socially connected. Many workplaces and school curricula have taken advantage of communication technology to help cope with home-based life, and it provides an essential way to stay connected with family and friends — particularly those who are more vulnerable or directly impacted.  It’s likely that some of these changes will be long-term, and some possibly permanent.However, I’m confident we’ll get through this period, and I look forward to when we can get back to a place where we can enjoy each other in the same space — in churches, arenas, restaurants and community centres. I hope you and your family remain safe and healthy during this difficult time.Nick Barnes is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

Since taking on the job of community correspondent, I’ve always tried to write about topics that relate to our area. I’ve been carrying a few ideas around to write about, but with what has now become so central to our daily lives, it’s difficult to write about most topics and I feel a need to share my thoughts about the pandemic that we’re all experiencing.

Some news media can sensationalize events but in this case it’s tough to downplay the facts. We’re constantly bombarded with bleak prospects, theories and rumours, and it’s hard not to become emotionally overwhelmed by it all. There’s no denying that these are worrying times, and we’re experiencing profound changes to our community.

Outside of the family, the community is the basic building block that forms the foundation of society. Events over the past month or so serve to remind us of how fragile this structure is — the rules and policies that facilitate efficient co-operation among large groups of people. Sports, music, religion — even eating — have all evolved to allow us to enjoy life together. School, jobs and money have evolved to help us do this better.

Exciting developments in Whyte Ridge

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Exciting developments in Whyte Ridge

Nick Barnes 5 minute read Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020

I attended the Whyte Ridge Winter Carnival a few weeks ago, and I think it was the first time I can remember having to park several streets away because it was so busy. It was great to see so many families having fun.As usual, Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West) and Winnipeg South MP Terry Duguid were on hand to chat with local residents. I think it’s so important and appreciated that our local politicians take the time to attend community events, despite being so busy. Curtis Rossow (Whyte Ridge C.C. president) was also there, and I was able to get an update on activities at the community centre and Whyte Ridge in general. Curtis said that this year the centre has received funding to install high-efficiency LED lights, and to install air conditioning throughout the building. Currently, only the multi-purpose room is air conditioned, and this space will also be getting new paint. The centre may also be part of a program to facilitate accessibility, with modifications being made to the entrance to the building.Speaking of the building, I asked the group if building expansion was still on the table. Terry again indicated that he would support this but the general feeling was that a group in the community needs to champion the initiative.Janice noted that Stage 2 of the Southwest Transitway project is ramping up this year.  Public information will start flowing next month, with April 12 targeted or the start of the new service. As I reported last year, this will include a high -frequency north-south corridor, improved local collections, larger buses and more heated shelters.There are also new things happening at several community buildings. The Steinbach Credit Union building on the corner of Kenaston Boulevard and McGillivray Boulevard will be expanding upwards in the near future, resulting in a four-story structure. The site of the former Baptist church on Scurfield Boulevard will become a regional medical centre, with major architectural changes. And Terry noted that FortWhyte Alive has received funding to renovate existing facilities and construct a new facility at the south entrance to the site on McGillivray.In terms of roads, it’s good to see the improvements to traffic flow in Kenaston Commons, with a new employee parking lot and stop sign to help cars from turning left into ongoing traffic. It looks like similar changes may be occurring along McGillivray that should alleviate stress when turning left from Brady Road and McCreary Boulevard. Funding’s in place for a set of lights at South Landing Drive – about half a kilometre west of McCreary.I’ll provide additional details in upcoming articles.Nick Barnes is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

I attended the Whyte Ridge Winter Carnival a few weeks ago, and I think it was the first time I can remember having to park several streets away because it was so busy. It was great to see so many families having fun.

As usual, Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West) and Winnipeg South MP Terry Duguid were on hand to chat with local residents. I think it’s so important and appreciated that our local politicians take the time to attend community events, despite being so busy.

Curtis Rossow (Whyte Ridge C.C. president) was also there, and I was able to get an update on activities at the community centre and Whyte Ridge in general. Curtis said that this year the centre has received funding to install high-efficiency LED lights, and to install air conditioning throughout the building.

Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020

Sou'wester
Whyte Ridge Community Centre president Curtis Rossow and city councillor Janice Lukes (Waverley West) were both on hand for the Whyte Ridge winter carnival earlier this month.

Laughter — what’s all about, really?

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Laughter — what’s all about, really?

Nick Barnes 3 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020

Over the Christmas break I attended several social events at which there was lots of laughter.

Chatting about it later, I began wondering how we evolved to make this weird, spontaneous (sometimes embarrassing) staccato sound, often involving gasping for breath and tears.

It seems that laughter has always been a part of communities around the world, despite the development of sophisticated language and cultural differences, and babies often begin laughing when they’re just a few months old.

It turns out there’s a fair amount of psychological, neurological and philosophical research into laughing, much of which is attributed to Dr. Robert Provine’s research at the University of Maryland, and his book Laughter: a Scientific Investigation.

Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020

Over the Christmas break I attended several social events at which there was lots of laughter.

Chatting about it later, I began wondering how we evolved to make this weird, spontaneous (sometimes embarrassing) staccato sound, often involving gasping for breath and tears.

It seems that laughter has always been a part of communities around the world, despite the development of sophisticated language and cultural differences, and babies often begin laughing when they’re just a few months old.

It turns out there’s a fair amount of psychological, neurological and philosophical research into laughing, much of which is attributed to Dr. Robert Provine’s research at the University of Maryland, and his book Laughter: a Scientific Investigation.

Slow down and enjoy the season

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Slow down and enjoy the season

Nick Barnes 5 minute read Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019

I wrote about Christmas a few years ago, but it’s so intertwined with community and family that it’s worthy of a second look. As I described previously, its origins are a blend of the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ with the more secular celebration of winter solstice and optimism for the year to come. I don’t know about you, but we still mail Christmas cards to out-of-town friends and family. The internet provides lots of digital options but it’s still nice to open a paper card. And even though our children are adults, they still get a chocolate-filled Advent calendar to count down the days. I really think it’s children who make Christmas so magical — from both a religious and family perspective. Recreating the excitement that I experienced as a child with my young children was fantastic. From Christmas eve singing Christmas carols at church to laying out cookies for Santa and carrots for Rudolf, and that look of joy on their faces as we came down to the pre-dawn glow of Christmas tree lights to open gifts. In addition to the important religious event, I think what’s made Christmas so enduring, even spreading to non-Christian countries over the past few decades, is a recognition of the need to slow down and spend time with the family, especially as life becomes even more fast-paced. The Christmas season usually includes the gathering of families at schools to listen to Christmas concerts, and at various community events. This year in Whyte Ridge, Henry G. Izatt Middle School had its Christmas concert on Dec. 5, and the elementary school held its concerts from Dec. 17 to 19.At Whyte Ridge Community Centre, the winter carnival isn’t until Jan. 19 but I’m guessing the Dec. 8 movie night screening of Arthur Christmas got families in the Christmas mood.St. Gianna’s Roman Catholic Church and the Whyte Ridge Baptist Church will both be celebrating Christmas, of course, and the Baptist Christmas Choir has been rehearsing since November for a mini concert on Dec. 22. FortWhyte Alive had a Breakfast with Santa event on Dec. 14 and, starting on Boxing Day, will host several Frosty Family Fun Days until Jan. 3, including snowshoeing, snow taffy, marshmallow roast, and ice bowling.  I’m also guessing there’ll be family tobogganing on the hill by the elementary school, and skating at the community centre, sources of very fond family memories.Whether you’re attending a church service, a community event, or a family dinner, this season is all about slowing down, sharing happy experiences and maybe remembering past events. I wish you good tidings of comfort and joy over the holiday season!Nick Barnes is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

I wrote about Christmas a few years ago, but it’s so intertwined with community and family that it’s worthy of a second look. 

As I described previously, its origins are a blend of the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ with the more secular celebration of winter solstice and optimism for the year to come. 

I don’t know about you, but we still mail Christmas cards to out-of-town friends and family. The internet provides lots of digital options but it’s still nice to open a paper card. And even though our children are adults, they still get a chocolate-filled Advent calendar to count down the days. 

Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019

I wrote about Christmas a few years ago, but it’s so intertwined with community and family that it’s worthy of a second look. As I described previously, its origins are a blend of the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ with the more secular celebration of winter solstice and optimism for the year to come. I don’t know about you, but we still mail Christmas cards to out-of-town friends and family. The internet provides lots of digital options but it’s still nice to open a paper card. And even though our children are adults, they still get a chocolate-filled Advent calendar to count down the days. I really think it’s children who make Christmas so magical — from both a religious and family perspective. Recreating the excitement that I experienced as a child with my young children was fantastic. From Christmas eve singing Christmas carols at church to laying out cookies for Santa and carrots for Rudolf, and that look of joy on their faces as we came down to the pre-dawn glow of Christmas tree lights to open gifts. In addition to the important religious event, I think what’s made Christmas so enduring, even spreading to non-Christian countries over the past few decades, is a recognition of the need to slow down and spend time with the family, especially as life becomes even more fast-paced. The Christmas season usually includes the gathering of families at schools to listen to Christmas concerts, and at various community events. This year in Whyte Ridge, Henry G. Izatt Middle School had its Christmas concert on Dec. 5, and the elementary school held its concerts from Dec. 17 to 19.At Whyte Ridge Community Centre, the winter carnival isn’t until Jan. 19 but I’m guessing the Dec. 8 movie night screening of Arthur Christmas got families in the Christmas mood.St. Gianna’s Roman Catholic Church and the Whyte Ridge Baptist Church will both be celebrating Christmas, of course, and the Baptist Christmas Choir has been rehearsing since November for a mini concert on Dec. 22. FortWhyte Alive had a Breakfast with Santa event on Dec. 14 and, starting on Boxing Day, will host several Frosty Family Fun Days until Jan. 3, including snowshoeing, snow taffy, marshmallow roast, and ice bowling.  I’m also guessing there’ll be family tobogganing on the hill by the elementary school, and skating at the community centre, sources of very fond family memories.Whether you’re attending a church service, a community event, or a family dinner, this season is all about slowing down, sharing happy experiences and maybe remembering past events. I wish you good tidings of comfort and joy over the holiday season!Nick Barnes is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.

I wrote about Christmas a few years ago, but it’s so intertwined with community and family that it’s worthy of a second look. 

As I described previously, its origins are a blend of the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ with the more secular celebration of winter solstice and optimism for the year to come. 

I don’t know about you, but we still mail Christmas cards to out-of-town friends and family. The internet provides lots of digital options but it’s still nice to open a paper card. And even though our children are adults, they still get a chocolate-filled Advent calendar to count down the days. 

What’s Halloween all about, anyway?

Nick Barnes - Community Correspondent 3 minute read Preview

What’s Halloween all about, anyway?

Nick Barnes - Community Correspondent 3 minute read Monday, Nov. 4, 2019

Well, another Halloween as come and gone. If you have young children, I hope they enjoyed the evening and I hope you enjoyed taking them around the community or handing out treats and meeting the neighbours.

So why go through the rituals of costumes, jack-o’-lanterns and trick or treating?

Like Christmas, Halloween is actually a blend of pagan and Christian celebrations.

On the pagan side of things, it stems from a British celebration, more than 400 years old, of fall harvest and the transition to cold, dark winter. Folk tales about the boundary between the living and dead becoming blurred, with the souls of lost ones visiting home before finally departing. People were known to impersonate the souls of the dead to disguise themselves, and/or pretend to be the bad spirits, playing pranks and carving harvested vegetables like turnips and beets into scary faces representing the dead. 

Monday, Nov. 4, 2019

Souwester
The tradition of carving Halloween jack-o’-lanterns can be traced to Irish folkore and the tale of Stingy Jack.

There’s plenty in store for Whyte Ridge

Nick Barnes - Community Correspondent 3 minute read Preview

There’s plenty in store for Whyte Ridge

Nick Barnes - Community Correspondent 3 minute read Monday, Sep. 30, 2019

Well, after a September with temperatures in the high 20s it looks like we’re back to a typical fall with rain and single digit temperatures. It seems every summer there are more pelicans, cormorants and loons feeding in the Whyte Ridge retention ponds, a sign of healthy fish populations.

As city councillor Janice Lukes (Waverley West) notes on her website, janicelukes.ca, our retention ponds are part of an earlier design phase, with ponds in newer subdivisions such as Bridgwater having a more natural wetland design. However, despite the less natural design of our ponds, they continue to provide habitat for a variety of natural species.

Speaking of open spaces and parks, preparations are being made for the next round of public sessions on Winnipeg Recreation and Parks Strategies. This was the initiative to update plans developed about a decade ago to guide programs and services, including investment in existing and new infrastructure.

Progress is being made on developing the South Winnipeg recreational campus in Waverley West. On her website, Coun. Lukes reports that the City is working with the federal and provincial governments to secure funding for the recreation campus, and if the project is deemed a priority by council, the City will apply for that funding in October. As the earlier version of the plan called for expansion of the Whyte Ridge Community Centre, it will be interesting to see if that commitment will be retained.

Monday, Sep. 30, 2019

Well, after a September with temperatures in the high 20s it looks like we’re back to a typical fall with rain and single digit temperatures. It seems every summer there are more pelicans, cormorants and loons feeding in the Whyte Ridge retention ponds, a sign of healthy fish populations.

As city councillor Janice Lukes (Waverley West) notes on her website, janicelukes.ca, our retention ponds are part of an earlier design phase, with ponds in newer subdivisions such as Bridgwater having a more natural wetland design. However, despite the less natural design of our ponds, they continue to provide habitat for a variety of natural species.

Speaking of open spaces and parks, preparations are being made for the next round of public sessions on Winnipeg Recreation and Parks Strategies. This was the initiative to update plans developed about a decade ago to guide programs and services, including investment in existing and new infrastructure.

Progress is being made on developing the South Winnipeg recreational campus in Waverley West. On her website, Coun. Lukes reports that the City is working with the federal and provincial governments to secure funding for the recreation campus, and if the project is deemed a priority by council, the City will apply for that funding in October. As the earlier version of the plan called for expansion of the Whyte Ridge Community Centre, it will be interesting to see if that commitment will be retained.

Exploring the neighbourhood by bicycle

Nick Barnes - Community Correspondent 2 minute read Preview

Exploring the neighbourhood by bicycle

Nick Barnes - Community Correspondent 2 minute read Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2019

This spring I decided to buy a new bike and try to make a habit of riding through Whyte Ridge and FortWhyte Alive each weekend. I was inspired by a certain Whyte Ridge Facebook friend who regularly shares pictures of his bike rides to Gimli.

The ride gets interesting at the Whyte Ridge Community Centre on Fleetwood Road, going north beside the native prairie, past the butterfly garden and row of elm trees, before Front Street and crossing over McGillivray Boulevard. This is the one challenging area if traffic volumes are high, and I remain hopeful that in the near future we’ll be getting a crosswalk here.

Once into the south end of FortWhyte Alive the path winds through the aspen and bur oak forest past the various ponds, and the reception and interpretive centres. The path then passes through more aspen forest past the tipi encampment and the buffalo viewing area, and then Bison Butte, a fun playground for the adventurous mountain biker. I hadn’t been aware that this was developed in 2017 as part of the Canada Summer Games mountain biking competition. It’s a massive hill, with numerous trails of various levels of difficulty, and worth visiting with the family.

Then it’s north through the massive field of tall grass prairie, on to the hill at Wilkes Avenue, and a chance to catch your breath before the return trip. It’s about six kilometres each way, and a great way to start a Saturday. It takes about an hour if you’re not in too much of a hurry.

Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2019

Sou'wester
Bison Butte in FortWhyte Alive is a fun playground for mountain bikers. It was developed for the 2017 Canada Summer Games mountain biking competition.

Live by the letter of the bylaw

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Live by the letter of the bylaw

Nick Barnes - Community Correspondent 3 minute read Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019

I was looking at Coun. Janice Lukes’ website recently — janicelukes.ca — and it had some useful information on several City of Winnipeg bylaws.

I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at some of the rules we should be aware of that affect life in Whyte Ridge.

Coun. Lukes (Waverley West) had noted that the City is piloting a new process to enforce the bylaw that covers homeowners’ responsibilities regarding maintaining vegetation on their properties.

You’re required to keep plants and vegetation trimmed so they aren’t unsightly, and grass must be kept trimmed to a maximum length of 15 cm (six inches). If a neighbour complains to the City about your long grass, you have seven days to mow it after an inspector formally notifies you, and it could result in a fine of $150 to $250 (on your property tax bill), depending on your responsiveness.

Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019

I was looking at Coun. Janice Lukes’ website recently — janicelukes.ca — and it had some useful information on several City of Winnipeg bylaws.

I thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at some of the rules we should be aware of that affect life in Whyte Ridge.

Coun. Lukes (Waverley West) had noted that the City is piloting a new process to enforce the bylaw that covers homeowners’ responsibilities regarding maintaining vegetation on their properties.

You’re required to keep plants and vegetation trimmed so they aren’t unsightly, and grass must be kept trimmed to a maximum length of 15 cm (six inches). If a neighbour complains to the City about your long grass, you have seven days to mow it after an inspector formally notifies you, and it could result in a fine of $150 to $250 (on your property tax bill), depending on your responsiveness.