Pollinator parks protection passes

Bumblebees, butterflies, moths, flies and other pollinators will now have a safe landing in Red Deer. City Hall Park, Snell Gardens, Bower Ponds and Maskepetoon Park were dedicated as pollinator parks on Monday. The average onlooker will not notice too much of a difference at the sites save for a few interpretative signs. But the payoff will be huge, says Trevor Poth, the city’s Parks superintendent.

Bumblebees, butterflies, moths, flies and other pollinators will now have a safe landing in Red Deer.

City Hall Park, Snell Gardens, Bower Ponds and Maskepetoon Park were dedicated as pollinator parks on Monday.

The average onlooker will not notice too much of a difference at the sites save for a few interpretative signs.

But the payoff will be huge, says Trevor Poth, the city’s Parks superintendent.

“The most important thing about the pollinator parks is educating the public about the opportunities they have on their own properties,” said Poth. “We can have huge benefits for pollinators (through) residents adopting our practices and incorporating them into their land base.”

The project price tag rings in at roughly $10,000 or $2,500 per site for the signs.

The city’s website will feature resources for those interested in transforming their yards into pollinator-friendly areas.

The four sites were selected based on the habitat, pollen sources, interpretive access and pesticide limitations.

Poth said the city is in a good position because many of the parks were designed as the perfect environment for pollinators.

“We will be focusing on these parks as areas we will further reduce pesticide use but also areas where we can do innovative things such as overseeding certain areas … and different things with flowers,” said Poth.

Councillors Paul Harris and Lynne Mulder brought the motion to council calling for the protection of pollinators last March.

Harris said Red Deer is being looked at by other municipalities for the work done around the new pollinator parks.

“It’s great to see this resolution pass today,” said Harris.

“I think it will set the stage for other municipalities to take a leadership role in protecting pollinators.”

Harris said he was reminded by the “alarmist statement” by Albert Einstein where Einstein declared, “if we lose our bees and our pollinators, we will lose humanity, four years later.”

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes said major pollinator numbers have declined between 30 to 40 per cent over the last 20 years due to lost of habitat and pesticide use.

“When you think about that and you don’t do anything what’s going to happen in the next 10 to 20 years,” she said.

“This resolution … is so much more than what the city can do but what our citizens can do … It’s what we can plant locally and the actions we do in our own backyards and our balcony that can make a difference.”

Council also pointed out the great work being done to protect pollinators in the community by groups at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre and the Ellis Bird Farm.

Coun. Ken Johnston said, “it’s a great day to be a pollinator. It’s a great day to be a Red Deerian.”

In other council news:

— More help is on the way for individuals living on the streets in Central Alberta.

Council endorsed the Community Housing Advisory Board (CHAB)’s recommendation to allocate $185,000 to the McMan Central for a new youth outreach and family reunification services project. CHAB, on behalf of the city, oversees two grant programs that help individuals who are experiencing homelessness with the goal to getting them into stable housing. The new project will run from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

— A Queen Anne influenced house in Red Deer may be protected under the Alberta Historical Resources Act.

Council endorsed the issuance of the notice of intent for the Willson House (5011-43rd Ave.) to be named a municipal historic reserve. While municipalities have the authority to designate municipal historic resources, this will be the first time the city has considered the possibility. The owners of the 104-year-old home requested the designation. In as early as mid-August council will consider designating the site located in the Michener Hill neighbourhood through a land use bylaw.

— Jackpot Casino’s proposed parking lot cleared another hurdle.

Acting as the development authority, council approved a development permit for a temporary nine-year parking lot at 4637 and 4643-50th Street. There were some minor changes to the site plan including reducing the number of parking spaces to 41 from 42, widening a lane, sign location and pedestrian connection. Two trees will be planted to replace two that will be chopped down. The existing Larch tree will be preserved.

The approval comes after a large public hearing on March 30 when council approved a site exception for the Parkvale site.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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