Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer was joined by Tree Canada’s Gerard Fournier (centre) and City Manager Craig Curtis, at the opening ceremony for the Oriole Park Naturalization Project Wednesday afternoon.

Oriole Park Naturalization Project unveiled

Hundreds of trees and bushes planted to create a future urban forest

It may not look like much now.

But wait a few years and an Oriole Park greenspace’s transformation into an urban forest will be well underway.

Four hundred native trees, 700 shrubs and a number of other native plants have been planted in a park off Otterbury Drive as part of a naturalization project.

Red Deer parks superintendent Trevor Poth said the neat rows of new plantings were planned carefully. Different plants and trees will grow at different rates, and as they mature, they will create a healthy forest.

The naturalization project involved taking what was mostly a grassed area and converting it into a more diverse natural area. Plants, including roses and poplars, were already growing in the area, and the trees and shrubs added will complement them and provide habitat and food sources for area wildlife.

Under a steady downpour, Mayor Tara Veer talked about the huge role parks play in the city and the place the new park will take.

“It is a space that epitomizes the essence of our community,” she said. “That essence is the fact that we are a city within a park.

“Parks like this are homes to plants and animals that are part of our ever-changing ecosystem,” said Veer.

“Parks like this are imperative because they sustainable and they ensure we are stewarding the environment we have been entrusted with.”

The $55,000 project was given a big boost from CN, which donated $25,000 through its EcoConnexions initiative From the Ground Up, which was sponsored by CN in partnership with Tree Canada and Communities in Bloom.

The federal government provided $1,600 through its initiative with Tree Canada, which has 150 projects across the country this year as part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations.

Tree Canada community adviser Gerard Fournier said the organization has planted 80 million trees across the country.

The organization’s goal is to support tree planting and maintenance projects.

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