TREE PLANTING - From left Mayor Tara Veer, Kent Kryzanowski, Constable of CN Police Service, Gerard Fournier with Tree Canada and City Manager Craig Curtis plant a Maple tree in Oriole Park. Carlie Connolly/Red Deer Express

Building a sustainable space in Oriole Park

Four hundred native trees, 700 shrubs and other native plants added to Red Deer neighbourhood

Four hundred native trees, 700 shrubs and a number of other native plants were added to Red Deer’s Oriole Park neighbourhood as part of recent improvements that aim to build a more sustainable community park all while commemorating 150 years of confederation in Canada.

“Today is about reshaping how we grow our Waskasoo Park system and exploring new ways to build community spaces that consider not only the environment but financial and social sustainability as well,” said City Manager Craig Curtis.

He said low maintenance natural spaces like this one are an important part of the community’s ecosystem and park system.

The Oriole Park Naturalization Project focused on transitioning primarily turf space into a diverse native natural area, and the park officially re-opened Sept. 13th.

The overall project was enhanced after CN provided $25,000 to go towards native plantings and the Government of Canada injected $1,200 in capital grant funding as part of Tree Canada’s 150 tree-planting initiatives across the country. Red Deer was selected as one of the communities with the Oriole Park Naturalization Project focusing on water conservation and environmental stewardship.

“We hear frequently that citizens love our parks and trails, and adding to the City’s urban forest enables us to enhance natural spaces like Oriole Park and ensure they can thrive in our ever changing climate,” said Curtis.

The park consists of a large wide open space with multiple access points away from traffic and surrounded by homes. There were already plants such as roses and poplars located within the park, and the addition of trees and shrubs complements the already native flora and fauna, providing habitat and food sources. Trail linkages and connections to the Waskasoo Park system were maintained as part of the enhancements.

“Over the last number of years City council has continued to focus on public spaces where our citizens can connect with community and connect with each other,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “We have changed the way that we plan for and create these spaces, working to ensure that they are low maintenance, sustainable and accessible for citizens and visitors alike.”

This natural area in the Oriole Park neighbourhood, she said, is a space that epitomizes the essence of our community.

“That essence is the fact that we are a city in a park.”

Part of the celebration included the distribution of approximately 200 seedlings and a presentation from the City’s urban forester on how to plant and grow the seedlings.

Included in the plantings are three ceremonial trees representing Alberta, the commemoration of 150 years of confederation in Canada and a tree acknowledging our indigenous and ancestral roots.

“These three trees are the Lodgepole pine which is Alberta’s provincial tree, the Saskatoon which is the indigenous peoples’ choice of tree for CN plantings and the Maple which represents 150 species of maple worldwide.”

The total cost of the improvements was $55,000 with $25,000 funded from the CN EcoConnexions From the Ground Up program, sponsored by CN in partnership with Tree Canada and Communities in Bloom.

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