The City of Revelstoke will be mowing down part of a small meadow that has been the subject of a long-time dispute between neighbours.
Council voted in a closed door portion of its June 9 meeting to have staff mow the meadow next to Francis & Clara Maltby’s home on Boyle Avenue, near the community centre.
The meadow sits on city property, along a walkway that connects Boyle Avenue to Campbell Avenue and the community centre.
“I guess it gets down to that we’re in the middle of two neighbours that don’t get along, that complain about each other. The difference here is the neighbours are complaining about a piece of property that’s owned by the city,” said Mayor Mark McKee.
The decision is a sore spot for the Maltbys, who have been fighting the city and his neighbours in the Glacier Condos for years to preserve the meadow and the habitat it provides for birds, bees and other animals.
The dispute goes back to the early 1990s, when the Glacier Condos were built. Francis Maltby sent an e-mail to the Review containing the development permit, which says that nearby greenspaces would be maintained in their natural states. He says condo residents violated the permit by cutting down trees along the riverbank and mowing the park space behind their homes.
The Review approached Maltby about the matter but he would not speak on the record. He did copy us on a series of e-mails sent to the city. He said he will be taking up the matter with the provincial ombudsman.
He cited concerns about protecting bird and bee habitat, and also sent in a photo showing that the western toad, a blue listed species, uses the area.
His daughter Erica also took up the cause to preserve the small green space by starting up an online petition. 281 people signed the petition asking to have the space preserved.
“For me, it was taking human preference out of it and trying to recognize and save a greenspace that does play home to a lot of important little critters like the bee and the western spotted toad,” she said.
Francis Maltby is notoriously combative on many issues, so Erica said she got involved so people could separate the issue from her father.
“I had to lay it out to one of the councillors to not mistake me for my father,” she said. “This isn’t about your team versus my team. It’s about saving a greenspace that used to be a lot larger.”
Erica said she spoke to two councillors and an official at city hall. She tried to present her petition, but was told she had to follow certain steps.
“This nice little ecosystem, that in many people’s opinions is worth saving, is being overlooked because of policies and procedures,” she said. “People love it here because of how beautiful it is and how wild and environmentally friendly we are, but here we are mowing six feet of a really important ecosystem for blue listed species simply because a neighbour wrote a complaint.”
The city will be mowing a six-foot wide buffer around the meadow. Francis Maltby has been given two weeks to move any vegetation he wishes to keep.
Mayor McKee said that for council, it was a matter of not setting a precedent regarding unsightly premises.
“The underlying issue here is how do we tell somebody in Arrow Heights or Columbia Park to clean up their unsightly premise when we get complaints – and it’s not just from the immediate neighbours – and it’s our property,” he said. “The last thing the city wants is to get into the middle of a neighbourhood complaining about something. It’s even worse when the city owns that property.”