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Highlighting beauty and biodiversity in downtown planters
This summer, when you visit a downtown shop, office, or event, you may notice a colourful new collection of flower plantings. These Pollinator Cafés are brimming with annual flowers intentionally selected to provide food and habitat for local pollinators. Infographic signs located in many of these planters will feature a particular type of pollinator and outline the key plant features they are looking for in a food source. Embedded QR codes will link to plant lists you can reference when planning and selecting flowers for your own gardens and planters. The project is the result of a collaboration between several City of Lethbridge departments including Urban Revitalization, Parks, and the Helen Schuler Nature Centre.
The planters are designed to add vibrancy to the downtown while also offering critical infrastructure for pollinators within our urban ecosystem.
“Creating the Pollinator Cafés has been a fun way to showcase the different types of pollinators that call Lethbridge home and help keep our gardens and local vegetation healthy and productive,” says Jackie Cardinal, Natural Resource Coordinator for City Parks. “Learning about how we can create beautiful spaces while supporting and enhancing pollinator habitats, large and small, is so important for the health and wellness of our ecosystems and city overall.”
It is estimated that one in three bites of food is thanks to a pollinator! The variety and abundance of pollinators, also known as biodiversity, are a direct measure of ecosystem health. The addition of more than 40 of these Pollinator Cafés around the downtown will greatly enhance seasonal pollinator habitat and will also help to create a wildlife corridor to connect pollinators between larger parks, green spaces and residential yards.
“Green infrastructure is a critical part of the overall health of our urban ecosystem and even something as simple as choosing a flower for your planters can have a huge impact,” says Coreen Putman, Manager of the Helen Schuler Nature Centre. “Local pollinators have specific adaptations that require a particular shape, colour and seasonality of flowers. We’ve created these signs as a resource to inform members of the community about these distinctions and hopefully to also empower them to make informed choices when planning their garden.”
If you have recently visited the downtown you may have noticed more trees, shrubs and flowers. This green infrastructure is part of an ongoing effort to enhance the health, vitality and growth of the downtown as part of the ongoing implementation of the Heart of Our City Master Plan. The plan, created in 2007, includes objectives around being a sustainable downtown that is beautifully landscaped with appropriate species reflecting the unique characteristics of this bioregion. Projects like the newly renovated 3rd Avenue corridor and corresponding Pollinator Cafés showcase these efforts to incorporate more permanent and seasonal vegetation to the downtown for the benefit of human and non-human users alike.
“The ultimate goal of urban revitalization is to create a sense of place where people and activities want to be,” says Andrew Malcolm, Urban Revitalization Manager of the City of Lethbridge. “This project is another way we can work to create a beautiful, inviting and engaging atmosphere for residents and visitors to enjoy. Add in the fact that it is also helping the environment and it really is a win-win.”
If you are interested in learning more about ways in which you can support pollinators in Lethbridge, contact the Helen Schuler Nature Centre at email@example.com or 403-320-3064.