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Buzz and benches: Feedback sought on Stephen Avenue pollinator space

The City of Calgary is experimenting with planting ideas and seating on the corner of 1 Street SW and Stephen Avenue and wants to hear Calgarians’ thoughts.

The City of Calgary is developing a green corridor in the middle of downtown’s main street as part of the Future of Stephen Avenue project.

According to the project manager for Stephen Avenue experiments and activations, Kate Zago, it’s part of a larger scheme to test different ideas.

“We got some funding from a couple innovation funds to experiment on the avenue before we do the final redesign. One thing that we wanted to try out is planting strategies, including different greening strategies on the avenue,” said Zago.

Zago said the Stephen Avenue corner focuses on a pollinator species, native plant species, increasing biodiversity in the area.

According to Zago, the response thus far has been positive.

“The plants are thriving, and it’s teeming with bees at times – which is like pretty awesome to see if you go out there, and we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response,” said Zago.

“We’ve asked people, what would they like to see more and everyone really loves the bed mostly and would love to see more on green initiatives.”

Not just greening things up

Part of the project initiative is incorporating nature into the urban areas. It has a positive impact on people’s well-being, biodiversity, stormwater retention and air quality, Zago said.

Zago said people can sit, take a moment, have a conversation, or watch the world go by. Of course it provides an ecosystem for other living species, such as bees.

“Bees need different places to rest when they’re moving. There are a number of hives on rooftops in downtown and this just gives bees an opportunity to have a stop when they’re heading back to the river or to their hives,” she said.

According to Zago, the pollinator bed has a variety of different perennial plants that are pollinator friendly. These include Baktun berries, Honeysuckle, Gooseberries, Unusual Allium, and Red Valerian.

Zago said the project is still experimental. Once the final report is submitted a decision for future similar projects will be determined.

Calgarians can provide their feedback on the City of Calgary website.