July 29, 2013
From planting trees, shrubs and fruit trees to beautifying an environmentally sensitive area, there is no doubt the 2013 winners of the Agrium Community Green Spaces Program (CGSP) will make four communities in rural Alberta and Saskatchewan more visually appealing to visitors and residents alike.
The Alberta communities of Nanton and Stettler, along with Rosthern and Ituna in Saskatchewan are the 2013 CGSP winners.
“This is a new relationship for Agrium and Communities in Bloom,” says Rose Lecky, Agrium’s Manager, of Corporate Social Responsibility. “But it is one that is built upon mutual respect of the environment and its support of land conservation. Agrium is proud to support such a program dedicated to fostering civic pride, environmental responsibility and beautification through community involvement.”
The Agrium Community Green Spaces Program provides up to $10,000 in matching funding, to establish, create or enhance local green space in a community on municipal properties such as parks, green spaces, and community grounds. The project submissions all provide solutions to environmental challenges through the improvement of their green spaces.
Since 1995, Communities in Bloom has been assisting Canadian municipalities in engaging their communities to work together, creating beautiful spaces filled with greenery. Over time, we have seen the evolution of environmental issues and become more aware of the impact our environment has on our quality of life. Perhaps most importantly, our understanding of the benefits of greenery has grown far beyond the esthetic appeal of a lovely floral display to include the myriad social, economic, and environmental payoffs of investing in green infrastructure.
Twenty applications were received, with 13 from communities in Alberta and seven from Saskatchewan. The evaluation committee included Communities in Bloom judges from Alberta, Quebec and California. Project submissions were evaluated on the following elements:
- need for the community;
- nature of the project;
- scope of the project;
- expertise and ability;
- plant material warranty;
- commitment on maintenance;
- recognition of contribution;
- budget feasibility;
- local considerations.
The following report is a summary of the four winning project submissions. All are slated for completion by October 31, 2013.
With a project budget of $35,000, the Town of Nanton will be enhancing and improving the town’s 11.4-acre Westview wet-pond nature area. Pond aerators, pathway extensions and extensive tree, shrub and bush planting are all included in this project. The Westview wet-pond nature area was a space that was significantly underutilized by the local residents. As a result of the preliminary work, there has been a significant increase in the users enjoying the park. Before the project, there were only a few trees and shrubs sparsely located throughout the park. Now, significant pods of trees and shrubs can be found throughout the entire area.
Students at Stettler Elementary School will soon benefit from the plans to revitalize the natural aspects of an outdoor play space area. Staff, parent council and students got together to identify the need to improve the school’s green space. A planning committee felt a naturalized playground will help reconnect the students to nature, adding that such an environment will support positive behavior. With its central location, the site will bring residents together to engage in play, experience the benefits of greenery and nature, as well as become a popular walking destination as the site is connected to several community trails. With strong community stakeholder commitment and the implementation of an innovative approach to engaging youth with nature playground, the Outdoor Space Revitalization project at the Stettler Elementary school will create an example of a natural playground for other communities to explore and enjoy.
Along the CN mainline and main street in Ituna, Saskatchewan, The Avena Gardens will offer an orchard-like atmosphere for guests. The community’s intention is to plant a variety of fruit trees and construct a walking path through the orchard. Avena is a binomial name is from the plant oats, and the project will house a 30’ x 30’, three-stem oat plant to signify that Ituna is the birthplace of the Saskatchewan Oat Growers Association. Within this park, will be an assortment of trees, shrubs, perennials, grass, raised beds, mulch, walkway, plaque for recognition of contributors, information sign, and power to supply light to the sculpture and park. The gardens will be home to 130 trees, shrubs, and perennials, with the Community Fruit Orchard containing 150 fruit trees/shrubs.
Along the Rosthern Creek lies flood protection berms. And it is by reclaiming that area, that the Town of Rosthern hopes it becomes a green, environmentally-sensitive space. Through the assistance of Agrium's matching grant, berms will be shaped, covered with black loam and seeded to grass. The project entails planting 100 green ash trees and several other varieties along the walking paths. When a one-in-100-year flood passed through the community in 2013, the committee realized the need to reclaim and refurbish the land all along the creek bed. And even though Rosthern is well-known as a green, treed environmentally-sensitive community, it aims to grow even greener.