Large-scale developers may be required to ensure 15 per cent of plants and other landscaping materials are drought-resistant as part of a City of Red Deer effort to significantly reduce water use by 2012.
Parkland Community Planning Services is suggesting changing the land-use bylaw so that developers of larger commercial, industrial and multi-family sites do more naturescaping to conserve water.
All such developments must be big enough to require landscaping plans.
City council will consider first reading of the land-use bylaw amendment on Monday.
The city adopted a Water Conservation Strategy in 2007 that aims to reduce per capita water use by 20 per cent over 2006 levels, within the next five years.
“We’re hoping that once naturescaping becomes standard practice, that people will do a bigger portion of their property than just the minimum,” said Red Deer’s environmental initiatives co-ordinator Pam Vust.
“I think it will be really good for conserving water in the long run.”
Naturescaping involves changing and enhancing a lot or development area to promote water efficiency and reduce the dependence on fertilizers and pesticides.
The use of native Central Alberta non-invasion vegetation is preferred in combination with other landscaping materials.
“Visually, an area which is naturescaped could appear very similar to an average residential, commercial, industrial or institutional yard,” says the Parkland report to administration.
“However, the plant selection would be more drought tolerant, require less watering and the irrigation could be from a captured water source such as rain barrels.”
All landscaping plans with a naturescaping component would be subject to development authority approval.
The existing land-use bylaw now requires a landscaped area to mainly consist of lawn.
“The impact to developers would likely be minimal as 15 per cent is a small area and there are several options to the developer in terms of methods, material and plant selection,” says the report.
Although naturescaping wouldn’t affect single family, duplex and small multi-attached housing developments, Parkland Planning further suggests at least 25 per cent of front yards be landscaped to prevent it becoming entirely driveway.
This amount would still allow for a double-car parking pad and a small landscaped area for average-sized lots, says the report.