Willowbank wants to keep a natural grassy “meadow” that led to a complaint.
Caitlin Wooll, education co-ordinator at Willowbank, made a virtual presentation to council Monday to ask for an exemption from the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s grass-cutting bylaw for a “significant grassland habitat” on the property.
The Queenston facility, which bills itself as Canada's premier heritage conservation school, received a notice of violation of the bylaw, for grass or weeds over 20 centimetres.
She said the complaint was made by one person.
Wooll pointed out the meadow has been a part of Willowbank for 10 years and is home to many natural plants, animals and insects.
“It’s actually a grassland habitat. It’s a meadow,” she told council. “And it’s set in the picturesque landscape of the Willowbank estate grounds.”
“The meadow has existed for a decade and we have never before received a notice of violation,” she said.
Wooll said it’s similar to other “grassland meadows” in Niagara-on-the-Lake, such as at Butler’s Barracks.
When the school had a restoration ecologist examine the meadow, a list was compiled of 30 plants that make the habitat significant.
Findings included milkweed — significant for monarch butterfly breeding, tall grass that certain bird species like, and an area that’s flattened because two baby deer nest in the meadow, she said.
“It’s so necessary for all those insects and animals and plants. It’s very ecologically significant, and it’s also a part of the cultural landscape of the Willowbank estate and has been for like a decade,” she said.
Coun. Gary Burroughs made a notice of motion regarding the meadow, which will be dealt with at the next meeting of council, on Sept. 28.