Naturescaping gets go-ahead

Red Deer’s municipal planning commission has given a green light to a green initiative. On Monday, the commission voted to recommend to city council that it approve a proposed land use bylaw amendment that would impose new landscaping requirements in the city.

Red Deer’s municipal planning commission has given a green light to a green initiative.

On Monday, the commission voted to recommend to city council that it approve a proposed land use bylaw amendment that would impose new landscaping requirements in the city.

Specifically, the draft changes call for landscaping plans for major developments to include at least 15 per cent “naturescaping.”

Naturescaping, as defined in the proposed amendment, is “the modification and enhancement of a lot or development area to promote water efficiency and reduce the dependence on fertilizers and pesticides.”

Vegetation native to Central Alberta is preferred.

The 15 per cent naturescaping requirement would apply only to larger projects for which a landscaping plan is required: commercial and industrial sites, and large multi-family projects.

It would not affect single-family, semi-detached or small multi-family developments.

The bylaw amendment, however, also includes a requirement that at least 25 per cent of the front yards of such dwellings be landscaped as an alternative to impermeable surfaces like pavement.

The proposed land use bylaw amendment was prepared by Parkland Community Planning Services in response to a request from the city’s Evironmental Service Department.

A report presented to the commission by Emily Damberger, a planner with Parkland, noted that 61.6 per cent of the city’s water use is residential in nature.

Peak daily demand doubles in the summer, due to outdoor requirements, with the highest consumption related to grass in landscaped areas.

The Parkland report offered examples of how developers of major projects could meet the 15 per cent naturescaping requirement.

These include grouping plants with similar light and water requirements together; collecting or directing rain water from downspouts; replacing turf with tiered gardens, flowering trees, native shrubs or drought-tolerant grass; reducing impermeable surfaces; applying mulch cover to reduce evaporation and suppress weeds; and selecting drought-tolerant trees, plants and shrubs.

City council considered the bylaw amendment late last month, but decided to postpone first reading until the changes had been reviewed by municipal planning commission and the city’s environmental advisory committee.

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