The Society for Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL) has recognized the Okotoks Operations Centre’s grounds as a Greener Greenspace for the creation of a site with focused attention to soil biology, integration of thorough organic land care principles, and the educational components that support public awareness.
This new program recognizes sites from across Canada that exemplify ‘greener’ greenspace stewardship and showcase the best examples of ecologically-focused land care. The Town is one of nine municipal and ecological projects recognized across Canada in the inaugural year of SOUL’s recognition program.
“The Parks team is thrilled to be part of this project and to be recognized, along with Environment and Sustainability, for our greenspace stewardship,” said Christa Michailuck, Parks Manager. “The landscaping around the Operations Centre not only demonstrates the Town’s commitment to biodiversity and sustainable landscaping practices, but also offers information on how Okotoks residents can improve biodiversity in their own yards.”
The grounds act as an outdoor extension of the Environmental Education Centre (EEC), which is located inside the Okotoks Operations Centre. Inside the EEC, residents and schools can learn about the alternative groundcover used onsite, and about soil and water infiltration. Throughout the greenspace, there is outdoor interpretive signage to teach the public about soil, biodiversity, storm water and the nearby Sheep River. The space also includes educational garden spaces where residents can learn about planting alternative groundcovers instead of standard turf.
“This greenspace was intentionally designed to showcase how well drought tolerant plants do in the climate of the Foothills region and to create an educational space for residents,” explains Jinny Toffelmire, Environment and Sustainability Coordinator. “This initiative not only supports the Okotoks Environmental Master Plan, but also, some of our other commitments such as being a Bee City, through using chemical-free strategies to control weeds, planting a variety of flowering plant species, reducing outdoor watering, and enhancing and protecting the local ecosystem.”
Okotoks' Bee City commitment is further supported by the land care approach on this site, including providing pollinator habitats and utilizing sustainable pest management strategies.
In order to be recognized as a Greener Greenspace, sites must be cared for in ways that intentionally increase biodiversity and support plant health; improve soil health and protect the air and water; minimize waste and energy consumption and actively avoid using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
The aim of the Greener Greenspaces recognition program is to showcase examples from across Canada of ecologically-focused land care as a means to inspire others and to further the movement across Canada. For more information about SOUL and its recognition program visit https://organiclandcare.ca/2021-Greenspaces.
Learn more about the Environmental Education Centre and the surrounding greenspace: