Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff                                Autumn colours are beginning to fade in Central Alberta, but in Red Deer the city has been recognized among 17 green cities in Canada by travel site Expedia. Here two people pass a pollinator park as they make their way along the trails at Bower Ponds Thursday.

Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff Autumn colours are beginning to fade in Central Alberta, but in Red Deer the city has been recognized among 17 green cities in Canada by travel site Expedia. Here two people pass a pollinator park as they make their way along the trails at Bower Ponds Thursday.

Red Deer among Canada’s greenest, cleanest cities

Expedia names 17 top cities

Red Deer is among 17 green cities in Canada recognized by travel site Expedia.

The cities are some of the greenest and cleanest in the country according to Expedia in its travel blog series — Eco-Travel: Environmentally Conscious Tourism — that can be found at https://travelblog.expedia.ca/17-greenest-cities-canada.

Other cities in the blog, which are not ranked, include: Kelowna, Vancouver, Powell River and District of Saanich in British Columbia; Devon, Calgary, Edmonton and Okotoks in Alberta; Muskoka, Cornwall, Aurora and Greater Sudbury in Ontario; North Battleford, Sask.; Whitehorse, Yukon; Montreal, Que.; and Yellowknife, N.W.T.

Red Deer was noted for its annual city-wide cleanup Green Deer, and its pollinator parks that were recently set up in city parks to provide food and shelter for many native pollinators. The city is also one of 26 Canadian cities that are members of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.

Ken Lehman, the city’s parks, ecological and planning specialist, said the pollinator park at Bower Ponds has attracted the most attention.

“It’s just a great way to educate people and to get them interested in what pollinators are and what the city is doing to highlight how important those types of habitats are,” Lehman said.

A few pollinators could still be seen during sunny days this month, but a lot have gone into dormancy, he said.

“It’s been well used, the hotel and habitat features on site. Next year I’m sure it will be a wider array of species, and even more of them, because the pollen and nectar source will be even greater next year. It will be awesome.”

He said City Hall Park has two flower beds dedicated to pollinators and several signs have gone up at Maskepetoon Park to highlight what an important area it is for pollinators.

Mayor Tara Veer said the city has adopted a number of environmental initiatives in recent years like the expansion of the Blue Box program, and the Green Cart pilot project that involves collecting organics like yard waste, food scraps and pet waste from 2,000 households.

“Probably in the coming years one of the most strategic areas that we can affect change on the environment front is in terms of the expansion of the Green Cart program, and hopefully as a community, look at organic processing recognizing organics as it stands right now compose some of the most significant contributions to the waste management facility,” Veer said.

“If we can divert those organics we’ll be making considerable headway on our environmental plan.”

She said recognition from Expedia bodes well for the city when it comes to elevating Red Deer’s profile and image.

“We have historically had a bit of an image and branding issue so I think we’ve become intentional in terms of telling people provincially and nationally who we are. We also, from a tourism perspective, rank fairly strong in terms of sports tourism and as well as for meetings and trade. People often seek us out for those given our prime geographic location. But the fact that we’ve been recognized on an environmental front is new territory for us.”

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com