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Friday, Oct 23, 2020

City of Calgary’s naturalization and restoration efforts create sustainable and resilient natural environments

Calgary naturalization and restoration

The City of Calgary has many open spaces, such as boulevards, recreational spaces, off-leash dog zones, and nature viewing areas, which serve a range of purposes. Some of these areas have been impacted by extreme natural events and human use. In other instances, the open spaces are unused due to their location (e.g. boulevards) or functions (e.g. utility zones). 

The City of Calgary has established naturalization and habitat restoration projects to improve the health and resilience of its parks and green spaces. The objective of these projects is to create more sustainable urban landscapes that support more diverse native plants, animals and insects; increase aesthetics; provide residents with greater access to natural spaces; and reduce long-term maintenance costs. The City also wished to improve the resilience of these spaces to climate change and extreme weather events. Taking a naturalization approach, the City has undertaken a range of planting activities aimed at restoring native plants to these areas.

Calgary naturalization and restoration

Associated Environmental is supporting the preliminary environmental assessments to help identify sensitive environmental features and reduce potential impacts inherent in the proposed naturalization and restoration plans. In some cases, the project areas contain environmental sensitivities (e.g. native plants, raptor nests, snake hibernacula) that need to be protected during project activities. 

Stephanie Findlay, Project Manager, explains, “Our work includes mitigating the potential impacts during critical wildlife periods or providing alternative construction options. As these projects move from the design to implementation stage, our project team also supports regulatory applications and additional construction mitigation, such as environmental construction operations plans, tree protection plans, and erosion and sediment control plans.”

The project will result in more sustainable and climate-resilient parks and green spaces in Calgary

Stephanie tells us, “We deploy hand-held digital data collection tools to rapidly convert data and photos collected in the field into summary reports that can be rapidly and efficiently provided to the City early in the design process. This helps the City’s planners and project managers address environmental and other sensitivities.” 

Calgary naturalization and restoration

The City of Calgary is aiming to restore 20% of their open spaces by 2025. Associated has completed or is currently working on 21 unique project areas that include naturalizing manicured green spaces and restoring habitat in natural environment parks.  

Our key personnel involved on these projects include Stephanie Findlay, Richard Simpson, and Matt Freeman.