The city hopes to hold on to the money it currently pays in compensation for lost wetlands so it can conserve such environmentally sensitive areas closer to home. (Advocate file photo).                                The city hopes to hold on to the money it currently pays in compensation for lost wetlands so it can conserve such environmentally sensitive areas closer to home. (Advocate file photo).

The city hopes to hold on to the money it currently pays in compensation for lost wetlands so it can conserve such environmentally sensitive areas closer to home. (Advocate file photo). The city hopes to hold on to the money it currently pays in compensation for lost wetlands so it can conserve such environmentally sensitive areas closer to home. (Advocate file photo).

City of Red Deer looks at replacing, enhancing wetlands within city limits

Too late or better than never? Naturalists debate the merits

The City of Red Deer is seizing the opportunity to put more money into wetland conservation within city limits.

But local naturalist Tony Blake thinks the city is about 10 years too late to make a big difference.

By paving over abundant wetlands in southeast Red Deer and elsewhere to create neighbourhoods and commercial strips, Blake feels the city has already fragmented a natural system that doesn’t work well as “a piecemeal thing.”

Blake mentioned development around Cameo Lake and the Piper Creek watershed, saying “the city never gave these small watersheds their due.”

Todd Nivens, executive director of the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society, agrees that “bigger is better” when it comes to wetlands — however, he still sees benefits to enhancing what’s left.

“All wetlands have value — they are the kidneys of the ecosystem,” said Nivens.

Since some of the larger natural ones are gone, he’s hopeful that more storm retention ponds can be constructed as man-made wetlands, which are still beneficial to waterfowl, wildlife, insects and plants.

Blake and Nivens were reacting on Friday to a proposed change in city policy about what’s done with money that goes to compensate for wetland losses under provincial rules.

When a natural wetland is paved over for city development, the municipality must pay a compensation fee, calculated under the Alberta Water Act and Alberta Wetlands Policy, to fund wetlands replacement.

This money used to be given to Ducks Unlimited and was used for projects outside the city.

Now the City of Red Deer, through an initiative from the engineering services department, will be granted the power to keep this money to rehabilitate or enhance wetlands within city limits.

Whatever future conservation projects the City of Red Deer undertakes must still be approved and in accordance with provincial guidelines — according to a backgrounder provided to Red Deer city council.

Councillors will vote on Monday whether to establish a reserve fund for the $501,000 that’s owed for the 2017 loss of a wetland in the Queens Business Park. Council will discuss saving these funds for future use within city limits for wetland replacement or enhancement.

Engineering services manager Konrad Dunbar said this change was instigated about two years ago, before he came to Red Deer.

“It’s an initiative that allows us to utilize these funds in Red Deer, so the city sees some benefit.”

Dunbar believes the city strives to mitigate the impact of development on natural wetlands as much as possible, and otherwise takes opportunities to create stormwater retention pond-style wetlands.

“I think that anything that improves the environment within the city is a good thing,” he added.

Red Deer River Naturalist member Susan van der Hoek plans to investigate the details about what the city proposes before forming an opinion.

“It depends on the kinds of projects it will be used for,” she added.

Van der Hoek is particularly concerned about future proposed development around Hazlett Lake in northwest Red Deer.

She’s glad the city plans to leave a natural berm around the lake.

“If the money is used to protect natural areas like Hazlett Lake, it could be a good thing,” she added.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Red Deer City Council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Suncor logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 2, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Suncor Energy and Atco working together on potential hydrogen project

Atco would construct and operate pipeline and hydrogen storage facilities

Colonial Pipeline joue un rôle de premier plan dans le transport de l’essence, du kérosène, du diésel et d’autres produits pétroliers du Texas vers la côte Est.(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Pipeline officials hope most service will be back by weekend

Colonial Pipeline delivers about 45 per cent of the fuel consumed on East Coast

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves after holding a press conference in Ottawa on Friday, May 7, 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Health care providers, advocates cry foul over stalled action on pharmacare

Expert panel appointed by the Liberals recommended public pharmacare system

Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, tosses the ball for a serve to Ilya Ivashka, of Belarus, during the Miami Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
Canadian Denis Shapovalov books spot in second round of Italian Open

Shapovalov to face world Stefano Travaglia, of Italy

This picture provided and painted by Bob Dylan in 2020 is called “New York Subways”. The largest collection of Bob Dylan’s artwork ever seen will go on display later this year in the U.S. “Retrospectum” spans six decades of Dylan’s art, featuring more than 120 of the artist’s paintings, drawings and sculptures. Building on the original “Retrospectum” exhibition that premiered in Shanghai, China, in 2019, the new version will include new, never-before-seen pieces and additional artworks from a brand-new series called “American Pastoral.” (Bob Dylan via AP)
Bob Dylan artwork to go on display in the U.S. this year

‘Retrospectrum’ spans six decades of Dylan’s art

FILE - Seth Rogen appears at the “Motherless Brooklyn” premiere in Los Angeles on Oct. 28, 2019. Rogen is the latest to jump into the podcast world. He’s making a series for the Stitcher podcast company where he interviews people with unusual stories to tell. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
Actor Seth Rogen to tell stories in his own Stitcher podcast

Rogen to invite musicians, actors and comedians

Vancouver Canucks’ Nils Hoglander (36) scores on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit (30) during first-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Hoglander scores twice as Vancouver Canucks dump slumping Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Hoglander scores twice as Vancouver Canucks dump slumping Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Edmonton Oilers' Dominik Kahun (21) celebrates with teammate Connor McDavid (97) after scoring the third goal against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen (34) during second-period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadiens clinch playoff spot with single point, fall to McDavid and Oilers in OT

Canadiens clinch playoff spot with single point, fall to McDavid and Oilers in OT

Rory McIlroy tees off on the fourth hole during the fourth round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow on Sunday, May 9, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
McIlroy ends 18 months without winning at Quail Hollow

McIlroy ends 18 months without winning at Quail Hollow

Canada , left to right, lead Briane Meilleur, third Val Sweeting, skip Kerri Einarson, and second Shannon Birchard discuss strategy against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. Both of Canada's teams were shut out of the medals, marking the first time ever that Canada did not reach the podium at either the men's or women's worlds in the same season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Most Read