Bringing nature back to the city
Restoring habitat, particularly for endangered species, and creating great parks in the process.
As our cities grow and develop, it’s not just homes for humans that we need to think about, but the natural habitats of the wildlife that live alongside us. Unfortunately, urban development continues to remove and degrade natural habitat, leaving some species in our urban areas endangered.
The following park projects involve creativity, partnerships, and foresight in restoring wildlife habitat in the city.
Turtles in Kingston’s Douglas Fluhrer Park
n Kingston, the volunteer group Friends of Kingston Inner Harbour has been working with the City since 2016 to protect turtle habitat in the 7-acre Douglas Fluhrer Park. In 2018, the group received a grant to expand their work mapping turtle nesting sites with GPS technology and hosting community events.
Salamanders in Richmond Hill’s Jefferson Salamander Park
Completed in early 2019, Jefferson Salamander Park is adjacent to an “amphibian crossing” that allows the Jefferson Salamander, whose habitat has been severely impacted by urbanization, to safely cross to a nearby pond. The park design builds the story of the salamander into its pathways and features, providing an educational opportunities for park goers.
Eels in Oakville’s Harbour West Shoreline
Set for construction in Spring 2019, Oakville is improving 500 metres along its west shore as aquatic habitat. The project includes special accommodations in the design for the American Eel, which is an endangered species.
Salmon in Vancouver’s New Brighton Park Salt Marshes
Completed in 2017, the City of Vancouver created a new salt marsh habitat in New Brighton Park, reconstructing what was once there before urban development filled in the tidal area. Even before the project’s completion, the City observed juvenile salmon using the new marsh area. The $3.5 million project was a partnership with the Port of Vancouver, which owns the land, and Musqueam, Squamish and Tseil-Waututh First Nations.
A greener way to cut the green in Edmonton
Edmonton piloted two self-driving, electric lawn mowers in Coronation Park in 2018. The $9,000 units could help the City meet its carbon neutral goals, if deployed at a larger scale.
While the project raised concerns from unionized staff, the City maintained it won’t be replacing any jobs, but cutting grass where it’s currently dangerous to do so, such as river banks and ravines. The project also piqued community interest, with one curious resident walking off with one of the lawnmowers (City staff later rescued it).
A cuter way to manage weeds in Albertan cities
Ever since the City of Red Deer began a pilot project using goats to manage weeds in the environmentally sensitive Piper Creek area, the Mayor of Red Deer now finds herself attending popular “Meet n’ Bleets” where residents can meet the goats—and the Mayor.
The pilot’s aim was to create an economical, non-chemical way to manage invasive weeds, such as Canada thistle. The goats were so efficient that they demolished an acre of thistle in one day, rather than the projected four, so the City extended the pilot.
Using goats is beneficial for pollinators and nearby water bodies, which won’t have to contend with chemical weed control. But just as importantly the goats have created a fun, family-friendly event where residents can chat with City staff and learn about the importance of environmental sustainability in Piper Creek.
Neighbouring cities like Lethbridge have also experimented with goats in parks. A pilot project in fall 2018 saw a herd of 200 goats—accompanied by a squad of canine companions trained to protect them—introduced into Cottonwood Park to manage trail-side vegetation that was difficult to reach using mechanized equipment. Lethbridge, too, has extended its pilot.
From felled tree to furniture in Montreal
Following the massive loss of ash trees due to the effects of the Emerald Ash Borer—an issue facing many cities in Canada—the Borough of Rosemont-La Petite Patrie decided to do something a little creative. It commissioned a local entrepreneur to find a way to re-use the wood from felled ash trees. Rather than discarding the wood by burning it, the newly created Bois Public organization used it to create street furniture, transforming a challenge into an opportunity.