Halifax program that plants wild species expands to entire municipality

·2 min read
Naturalization is a low-maintenance initiative that helps improve ecological resilience. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC - image credit)
Naturalization is a low-maintenance initiative that helps improve ecological resilience. (Vernon Ramesar/CBC - image credit)

Halifax council is expanding a program that uses native and non-native plant species to enhance biodiversity in the urban landscape.

Council's environment and sustainability committee passed the motion Thursday to spend $150,000 to expand a three-location naturalization project to the entire municipality. The low-maintenance initiative helps improve ecological resilience.

"The interest and success in the naturalization projects have led to a conclusion that a permanent naturalization program should be considered, along with dedicated staff and resources, especially if we wish to maximize the scale and impact of naturalization," Richard Harvey, the city's manager of policy and planning, told the committee on Thursday.

Council approved a series of naturalization initiatives in January 2019, including a two-year pilot program.

However, the pilot was interrupted by the pandemic and council approved an extension in March 2021.

Halifax Regional Municipality
Halifax Regional Municipality

Providing an overview of the original sites chosen, Harvey said Leighton Dillman Park at the Dartmouth Common was planted with wildflower seedlings, dogwood trees, butterfly bush and summersweet shrubs.

Harvey said the former grassed area of Merv Sullivan Park in north-end Halifax was transformed into a planted gathering place.

With the involvement of community volunteers, Harvey said, the area is now planted with serviceberries, bear berries, bee balm and swamp milkweed.

The third site in the pilot project is on Sime Court in Hammonds Plains, a former grassed road shoulder.

"This was just a right of way that the neighbours were mowing for years and they came together and said, 'Let's just plant a butterfly garden, let's plant a boulevard garden,' and it was wonderful," said deputy mayor Pam Lovelace, who is also the councillor for the area.

"Now there's a bench, there's an outdoor library — It's a spot where kids are spending time together with their grandparents."

Lyndsay Doyle
Lyndsay Doyle

Harvey said work there was led by residents and 2,000 perennials were donated and planted directly by community volunteers.

Resources were not dedicated to the program, he said, but shared between different departments.

While community involvement is an important aspect of the naturalization program, Harvey said two seasonal gardeners will be necessary for the first few years until the plants have become established.

Harvey said the $150,000 will be for staffing only. The city's climate capital fund will fund the plants for three years.


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