The old unstable barn that was removed from the Piper Creek Community Gardens will be rebuilt as a “pollinator hotel.” (Contributed photo).

ReThink Red Deer gets thumbs up from city on pollinator barn structure

Group is hoping to get a $40,000 building grant

The City of Red Deer has given its permission for “the world’s largest pollinator hotel” to be built at the Piper Creek Community Gardens.

All that’s needed now is some cash to make it happen.

While a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign raised only about $500 toward the project last fall, Rene Michalak, of ReThink Red Deer, is optimistic that a $40,000 provincial grant will come through in March.

A previous $25,000 received from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation enabled ReThink to hold public engagement workshops and build a list of volunteer builders for the project.

Michalak is pleased city council gave thumbs up to his group’s proposal this week to replace an old barn that was unstable and had to be torn down.

Starting in May, he hopes to begin constructing an open-sided replica that would fulfill several purposes: It would provide gardeners with some storm shelter, serve as a location for educational and interpretive programs and provide habitat for bees and other pollinating insects.

Michalak plans to use some of the weathered boards from the pulled-down barn to create a series of eight-by-four-foot woody habitats for insects to burrow in, helping propagate pollination at the community gardens south of the Red Deer landfill.

The open-sided storm shelter would also serve as a catchment for rainwater that would hit the roof and flow down the sides, to be collected below. Michalak is waiting for new Health Canada regulations that will stipulate what kind of treatment is needed before the water can be used on vegetables and other edibles.

Pollinator hotel project obtains a grant

In the meantime, he said the collected rainwater can be used to help shrubs and flowers grow.

ReThink Red Deer, which promotes sustainable living, has also applied for two other provincial grants that will be announced this spring.

One would be used for a one-year study to collect energy efficiency data from participating homes and businesses. It would later be evaluated and shared.

The other would enable ReThink to come up with “actionable solutions” to curb climate change through engagement with six to nine local groups, including the bike commuter association and the Feed the 500 group that creates communal meals out of rescued food that would otherwise be thrown away.

The City of Red Deer approved the storm shelter at the Piper Creek reclamation and agricultural project site because it would complement garden operations and because the city has a strong relationship with ReThink Red Deer and other site users.

Once the barn is built with money raised by ReThink Red Deer, the group would be responsible for ongoing maintenance, but ownership would be transferred to the city.

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