Bylaw amendment to help mitigate foxtail barley harms now in affect

Calgary City Council approved an amendment to the Calgary Community Standards Bylaw, that will more effectively regulate and mitigate the harmful potential of the Foxtail Barley plant. 

Foxtail Barley (Hordeum jubatum) is a perennial grass species native to North America. It provides many environmental benefits but has increasingly become a reported concern as it poses a danger to animals, especially dogs, when its seeds (awns) are ingested, inhaled or embedded in fur. Local veterinarians told The City that they continue to see injuries from Foxtail Barley and it is a growing concern for many pet owners.

Under the Community Standards Bylaw grasses or herbaceous plants over 15 centimetres in height must be controlled on nuisance properties. While Foxtail Barley is subject to this requirement, it was identified that mitigation prior to the plant reaching 15 centimetres is crucial to prevent seeding and further spread. The amendment adds the requirement that nuisance property owners control Foxtail Barley over eight centimetres, before it poses a hazard to local pets. 

Under the bylaw, a nuisance property is defined as a residential or commercial property that shows signs of serious disregard for general maintenance and upkeep, adversely affecting the safety or health of surrounding residents. It includes land used in a manner which interferes with the use or enjoyment of surrounding properties. 

​“The bylaw amendment is not intended to eradicate Foxtail Barley in Calgary, instead it provides the ability to regulate the plant before it reaches maturity; an additional tool to address Foxtail Barley on properties where surrounding pets’ health and safety are adversely affected,” says Matthew Zabloski, Leader, Policy and Bylaw Development, Community Strategies.

The specified penalty is $500, aligning with other violations of the Community Standards Bylaw section on nuisance properties. The amendment also permits peace officers to issue a remedial order to direct the manner in which the plant is to be controlled, where necessary.

In recent years The City of Calgary has undertaken extensive efforts, including hand-pulling and bagging campaigns, to control Foxtail Barley when it has posed a concern to neighbouring properties.

More information will be made available on