A Peninsula mother says the type of grass in a public park that backs onto her South Surrey property caused her son to go into anaphylactic shock, and the city is doing little about it.
However, city officials say staff are aware of the concern and staff are reviewing next steps.
Calla Oxley said that her son Wade was playing in Bayview Woods Park on June 28. The park is described by the city as beautiful but hidden, and is accessible from between the hedges of 13815 and 13829 33 Ave.
After approximately 15 minutes of play in the knee-high grass with his brother, Wade returned home and was showing signs of a reaction, Oxley said.
The 10-year-old told Peace Arch News Tuesday (July 14) that he had difficulty swallowing and had broken out in hives on his legs and neck.
Oxley gave her son Benadryl and rushed him to the hospital. Doctors gave Wade adrenaline and steroids.
“We were told to watch him closely for three days because there’s a phenomenon with anaphylaxis where you can relapse within two or three days,” she said.
Oxley said the doctors told her it was the tall, brown grass that caused the reaction. After her son was in a more stable condition, she called the City of Surrey to ask if someone could meet with her to discuss what could be done.
“We obviously won’t allow him to play in the park. But if it’s the tall grass and it’s mowed and not captured when it’s mowed, it’s just blowing in the wind…. we’re worried about him even being in his bedroom at night and becoming anaphylactic, because it was a severe reaction.”
Oxley said the City of Surrey sent an employee to the park the day she called. However, the woman who showed up reportedly said she was the “green grass person” and that a “brown grass person” was required.
“She said the brown grass person was on holidays,” Oxley noted.
After getting an all-clear from a doctor, the Oxleys went on a 10-day trip and returned home July 13. She said that time while they were away from the property would have been an opportunity for the city to cut and capture the grass.
“We’ve lived here for 10 years and on many occasions they’ve cut that entire park,” she said.
Tuesday, a section of the short, green grass appeared to have been cut within the last two weeks. The taller, brown grass was left untouched.
“We were told by the city that it was too expensive to cut the grass. We offered to pay for the mowing of the grass and they haven’t responded to that at all. As far as taking it out, they said it would be a long process, with community involvement, and take months and months,” Oxley said.
Oxley said the line of communication with the city has ended, and that “at this point we’re just happy to get a phone call from them.”
Monday, PAN asked to speak to somebody from the city about the family’s concern.
City manager of parks Neal Aven emailed PAN a statement on Tuesday (July 14), through the communications manager, saying that the city is taking the concern seriously and staff have spoken directly with the Oxley family.
The statement says city staff are aware the grass is the cause of the allergic reaction and that they understand that the Oxleys have taken steps to ensure their son does not come into direct contact with the grass.
“Parks staff are continuing to review potential steps, which may include more frequent moving, and will be in touch with the family this week.”
Tuesday afternoon, Oxley said she has yet to hear from the city.