Water-saving ideas flow

To the City of Red Deer, for its novel approach this year in promoting the importance of water through a naturescaping contest.


To the City of Red Deer, for its novel approach this year in promoting the importance of water through a naturescaping contest.

Water has too long taken for granted. Protecting this life-giving resource is among the top concerns on today’s environmental agenda. Current use is flirting with supply limitations.

It was once believed a human could never land on the moon. Today, man is looking far beyond that conquered moon, with sights set on Mars for a manned spacecraft.

In the same fashion, it was once believed that water supplies were endless. But ignorance, negligent conservation practises and haphazard developments allowed in search of profit are slowly choking the tap.

Every effort, no matter how small, counts in preserving water. Thus the applause for Red Deer and its naturescape competition, which is designed to encourage gardeners to embrace water-wise principles. (A city plan to introduce rain barrels to local homes is similarly noteworthy.)

City residents who practise water-wise landscaping, and others who plan to make the switch to an ecologically responsible, low-maintenance yard, are encouraged to enter the 2010 Water-Wise Naturescaping Contest. Entries will be judged on water conservation, landscape design and biodiversity.

“Naturescaping is a landscaping method that uses native plants and smart design to reduce your environmental impact,” say Pam Vust, environmental initiatives co-ordinator for the city. “Naturescaping saves time, money and water, and the results are gorgeous.”

It’s also healthy for body and mind.

Want to know more and how one can start such a rewarding project? A good start would be a call to Vust’s office at 403-342-8751. With trowel in hand, you will be pointed in the right direction.


To the provincial government, for its stinging backhand against the Town of Fort Macleod by back-tracking on a promise to build a police training centre in that community.

Given the Ed Stelmach government’s track record, the proposed training centre seems like a pipe dream.

Fort Macleod was elated when chosen from 30 Alberta communities, after an intense bidding process in 2006, to become home to the Alberta Police and Peace Officer Training Centre. Central Alberta municipalities were involved in that bidding war.

The town was chosen in part because of its roots as the first outpost of the North West Mounted Police in Western Canada in 1884. The government’s announcement promised a much-needed economic injection in the region.

Today, that elation has been stifled by frustration, bitterness and a feeling of being cheated. Rightly so.

This year’s provincial budget offered no funding for a police training centre.

Solicitor General Frank Oberle recently met with Fort Macleod officials and pledged to fight on the town’s behalf for the training centre.

Facing a bitter audience, Oberle said: “I won’t promise anything beyond my control but I have promised I will fight for the thing (training centre) and I will. I’m going to work my tail off, because I think it’s the right community and the right facility.”

Oberle, the fifth solicitor general to have the college project in his portfolio, can boast at every public meeting until the cows come home.

But action speaks louder than words. And inaction clearly indicates that Fort Macleod, and the notion of a police training centre, have been abandoned.

Rick Zemanek is an Advocate editor.