City abuzz over park initiative

Four proposed pollinator parks in Red Deer may soon create a buzz on the provincial and national fronts.

Four proposed pollinator parks in Red Deer may soon create a buzz on the provincial and national fronts.

Last year, city council directed staff to look into incorporating dedicated pollinator parks in existing and future park infrastructure.

It also asked administration to explore the permanent banning of neonicotinoids and related pesticides.

Now the city’s Governance and Policy Committee is recommending that council dedicate City Hall Park, Snell Gardens, Bower Ponds and Maskepetoon Park as pollinator parks.

Council will debate the proposal on May 25.

Parks superintendent Trevor Poth said the No. 1 thing that people will notice in the parks are interpretive signage.

“What it really does for us is protect some of those lands and allows us to focus on pollinators when we do any planning,” said Poth. “We really want to do is share information with the public about the importance of protecting pollinators and what they can do in their private yards to enhance pollinator habitat and pollen sources.”

Some pesticides contain a chemical called neonicotinoid that is known to harm bees, moths and bats.

“As a city we do not use any products that contain this,” said Poth. “Unfortunately, private residents and agricultural businesses and farmers are still using it. We’re using this as an information tool to explain the impacts.”

Poth said the city is trying to set the example to show how successful and beautiful ecologically-friendly initiatives can be.

“We don’t mind being a demonstration project,” said Poth. “But when it comes down to it, the prime land users of the city are private residents. The more information we can get out to the private residents of what they can do in their backyards, the better off the whole community will be.”

Coun. Paul Harris and Coun. Lynne Mulder brought the motion to council last March.

“Other municipalities are looking at Red Deer, at what we have done,” said Harris. “News travels. We are being progressive in not using that chemical in our system and we are setting up protected parks.”

Harris, who has been the city’s representative on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, said Red Deer will do doubt continue to influence other municipalities across the country.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com