The City of St. Albert is putting out a call to enthusiastic gardeners to join the Partners in Parks beautification program that runs from April to October.
Individuals interested in horticulture or environmental care can join the program by adopting a public space for the season to maintain over and above what the City provides. The area could be an island in your cul-de-sac, a community walkway, or a portion of a public park.
Individuals who take part in this seasonal program assist by picking up litter, weeding, watering, planting seeds and bushes, or mowing the lawn.
“The City has a service level it needs to meet. This takes it one step up with volunteers who can maintain it to a higher level than we can,” said Erin Pickard, operations supervisor of the parks program.
Not only does the program beautify, re-inforce, and preserve small neighbourhood green spaces, it acts as a catalyst to conserve biodiversity, control invasive species, and gives green thumbs a sense of pride in managing public areas.
“From my perspective, St. Albert residents feel connected to their community and specifically the green spaces. The program provides an opportunity to make a positive impact in areas around smaller neighbourhoods and it gives neighbours an opportunity to work together and get to know each other,” Pickard said.
Partners in Parks, which has operated in the city under the umbrella of Spruce Up St. Albert, has thrived since the 1990s. Volunteer horticulturalists are supplied with bags and in some cases gloves. However, they supply their own tools and plants.
There are four areas partners can offer their skills: mowing, litter pickup, flower-bed planting and maintenance, and shrub cleanup.
“With mowing, we want to make sure it’s safe for our partners and we set up a boundary plan with them. Our partners provide their own equipment, tools, and gardening gloves. The area they mow could be a walkway or a park space behind their house, and we set up a boundary for what they would like to do.”
For litter pickup, the City provides gloves and bags.
“You adopt an area or an event and you maintain that throughout the season as a regular route. Some people like to walk it daily. Other people do it monthly. Essentially, it’s maintaining it to a higher level than we can.”
As for flower beds and flower barrel partnerships, Pickard is quick to point out the petunia planters scattered throughout the city are cared for by City employees. However, the flower beds and flower barrels volunteers deal with tend to be at neighbourhood-based areas such as Afton Crescent, Delisle Court, Danforth Crescent, and Kingsbridge Close, to name a few.
“Partners get the flowers, do all the labour to plant them and maintain them throughout the season. Some neighbours in cul-de-sacs pool together flowers. Some individuals like to make their own choices and supply their own flowers.”
The last area deals with shrubs and shrub beds that simply require weeding and litter control.
Prior to COVID, the City registered 200 households in Partners in Parks. At the moment, there are only 30.
“We will be accepting as many volunteers as would like to participate.”
For online information and registration tutorials, visit stalbert.ca/city/environment/programs-events/spruce-up/partners/.