BY PEGGY REVELL ON SEPTEMBER 29, 2015.
With a butterfly garden, large hill and pond drawing water from the St. Mary’s Irrigation district, there’s a lot of new features at a soon-to-be opened park in Southlands.
“They city doesn’t have anything much like this anywhere,” said John Bulmer with the land and properties department of the park south of Wal-Mart.
“We’re very proud of this. We think it’s going to be a great space for the neighbourhood,” said Jane Zwicker, city sales and marketing officer.
The most obvious feature is the hill in the centre, dubbed Celebration Hill.
“Typically, our parks we made were flat,” said Bulmer. But the idea of having a large hill came from seeing how much young children enjoy playing on hills and bumps. It was also a cost-saver. “Waste” dirt from nearby construction was used to build it, instead of having to pay to truck it all away.
Other unique features include a butterfly garden with plants that attract the insects, and a small orchard with fruit trees.
Sustainability was also a focus, with plants and grasses selected for drought tolerance.
The park’s pond — also used as a storm pond— and a meandering foot-deep stream, will use water from the St. Mary’s irrigation system, therefore reducing the need to use water treated by the city.
Another feature is along the outside, with a pedestrian corridor lined with trees.
“So when it gets to 30 degrees, it gives some shade,” said Zwicker, as well as reducing pollution and beautifying the neighbourhood. “We’ve had a lot of really positive comments about the trees.”
There’s still a flat green area that can be used as a playing field, playground equipment and connections to the rest of the city’s trails.
A “flexipad” will be a hard surface usable during the summer but can be transformed into a rink during the winter. Bulmer said the hope is to create a site that can be used throughout the year.
“Our big thing is trying to get people out of their houses, give them an a reason to go outside,” said Bulmer.
“You make it interesting, people will come out,” added Zwicker.