Landscaping

Landscaping Report – Fall 2014

As noted in my last article, after we completed the majority of landscaping from 2002-2007 when I was President, I really wanted to introduce some natural interpretive elements that further “softened” the property, provided some interesting features with some educational value, and linked with some of the themes in the Fort Whyte Alive facility to the north of the Community Centre.  Based on feedback from the Community there seemed to be interest in pursuing this idea and so I developed a concept plan in 2007.  Some of the pathways and native prairie elements were installed in 2009, after I had left the Community Centre Board, but none of the other elements were implemented. So this year I updated the concept plan (WRCC Landscaping Plan 2014) and we began efforts to implement the next phase.

After a number of site meetings and discussions with City staff on landscaping, the landscaping Master Plan was updated on June 14th, as shown:  Master Plan. The plan was used to make an application to the City’s Assiniboine Community Committee for Land Dedication Reserve funding.  As part of the process our President, Robyn McCarthy, had several discussions and correspondence with Paula Havixbeck, our local City councillor (Charleswood-Tuxedo ward).  Based on Councillor Havixbeck’s advice and guidance our application was successful and on June 10 we were awarded funds to implement our landscaping plan.  The Community Centre Board would like to thank Councillor Havixbeck and hopefully we can celebrate this year’s accomplishments with her in the fall.

The plan consists of the following elements:

  • Installing new native trees;
  • Installing new native shrubs/saplings;
  • Establishing a new “butterfly garden” and repairing the weed-filled bed near Fleetwood;
  • Establishing a new area of native prairie grasses and maintaining the existing prairie area;
  • Tidying up the existing limestone pathway and constructing an extension to the new butterfly garden;
  • Creating a resting spot on the pathway where we’ll install some interpretive signs; and
  • Installing new benches.

Installing Native Trees

Hopefully by the time you’re reading this most of the landscaping has been completed, but things began on June 29, with the installation of the new trees installed at our request by the City.   They also removed the 113 rebar stakes that were used to support the set of trees that were installed more than eight years ago, removed and replaced some trees that had died and installed 16 new trees.

Most of the trees installed by the City were elm trees.  Elm trees have historic value and Winnipeg reportedly has one of the largest populations of American elm trees in North America – primarily due to several decades of effort to control the spread of Dutch elm disease.  Many of the older streets in Winnipeg are lined with elm trees.  While the intent at the Community Centre is to use native species, in this case the City advised that “discovery elm” would be used rather than American elm.  Discovery elm is a non-native hybrid of American elm, resistant to Dutch elm disease.  Hopefully this compromise is acceptable and over the years the trees, lined up along the west pathway,  will grow to an impressive 20 m high with a 10-20 m spread and be reminiscent of this historic relationship between the elm and Winnipeg’s streets.

As I write this article we are working with J Ross Property Maintenance and Landscaping Limited to install a number of the landscaping elements, including the trees, and as indicated, hopefully many of them are in place by the time you read this article.

Installing trees
Installing trees

Based on advice by the City of Winnipeg Forestry Technical Services we’ll be installing one or more of the following native species: skyfast cottonwood, American basswood, bur oak, white spruce, silver cloud maple, Lord Selkirk sugar maple, and fallgold black ash.  Locations are shown on the Master Plan and would be as follows:

  • 6-7 trees on the west side of property along Cloverwood fence line – extending the new trees currently being installed by the City (likely elm species);
  • 2-3 trees on the east side of property – at centre line of north soccer field;
  • 3 trees on the NE corner of property;
  • 2-3 trees to the north-centre of the property – eventually screening the To-le-do building;
  • 2-3 trees on the NW corner of property; and
  • 3 trees to the west of the west hockey pen.

Finally, after more than 10 years, I can follow through on my commitment to Cloverwood residents to install trees outside their fence line to assist in a visual/acoustic screen to the (sometimes noisy) sports activities!

Installing Native Shrubs/Saplings

The City of Winnipeg agreed to supply 150 shrubs/saplings and we requested a mix the following native species: Manitoba maple, green ash, bur oak, chokecherry, pincherry, buffaloberry, dogwood, snowberry. Hopefully, by the time you read this, these will have been installed in areas immediately surrounding the trees as natural understorey, in an effort to naturalize the perimeter areas of the property.

Installing shrubs
Installing shrubs

Establishing New Butterfly Garden

As reported in the previous issue, there seems to be Community interest in gardening and the use of native plants, and there was fairly good attendance at the presentation that Kelley Liebzeit provided at the Community Centre in the spring.  The first aspect would be to continue to salvage the existing flower/shrub bed at the Fleetwood entrance.  This involves removing the remaining native plants and treatments to eradicate the weeds – scheduled for this fall.  Then species such as mountain ash, Indian grass, and smooth aster will be installed – hopefully in the spring of 2015.

The Master Plan calls for a similar-sized bed to be installed at the east-central side of the property; however, based on a July site visit with the City and James Ross, it was decided to postpone or perhaps abandon this concept, as the area is quite wet in the spring and the bed could block the natural drainage and cause more local ponding and possibly damage the plants.

The new Master plan calls for the establishment of a feature “butterfly garden” located in the centre of the property (see Master plan), something Kelley is particularly interested in.  While the Fleetwood bed was established for this purpose, the new location provides a more sheltered spot that should protect butterflies from the wind.  The plan is to install plants such milkweed species, Canadian goldenrod, black-eyed susan, common yarrow, phlox, asters, coneflowers, blazingstar, sage, stonecrop, lilacs and joe-pye weed to attract butterflies and provide food and habitat – again, hopefully all in place as you’re reading this.

Pegasus Publications organized a fundraising event and donated $400 towards the butterfly garden.  Among other things, Pegasus publishes the Manitoba Home and Gardener Living magazine and is currently sponsoring a Save the Monarch Butterfly campaign.  The Community Centre Board would like to thank Pegasus and looks forward to celebrating the establishment of the butterfly garden with them in the fall.

Establishing an Area of Native Prairie Grasses

As indicated, from 2008-2009 Native Plant Solutions (NPS) installed an initial phase of native prairie grasses, from the south east end of the property along the east fence line. The initial year was used to prepare the site and included active weed control to make sure that the site did not become infested with perennial weeds, and erosion control with temporary cover-crop. This was continued in the second year, which also included initial seeding of native grasses.

Based on a spring site inspection by the City Naturalist it appears that the native grass installation was successful and the grasses are still present.  The plan is to extend the area of prairie grasses further north, along the eastern side of the property (see Master plan), in another two-year program.  NPS has agreed to complete the project.

This fall NPS will roto-till the new area to the north (from the east fence line to centre line of north soccer field) and amend the soil with peat, then seed the area next spring with a diverse native seed mix of flowers and grasses and monitor and manage weeds for the next year.

Based on NPS’s site assessment the southern segment of grasses (from Fleetwood to the hockey pen) currently seems to be in good condition, but the plan would be for NPS to conduct a controlled burn in the spring to modify species composition. Fire is a natural mechanism for maintaining healthy prairie and improves soil quality and seed germination. Controlled burns involve gradually burning small portions of the prairie at a time to manage safety issues.  NPS will obtain a permit and notify adjacent residences before this occurs.

During the site visit with NPS it was difficult to assess the middle segment of grasses (hockey pen to end of fence line) because the area is being inadvertantly mowed by City staff.  We’re currently finding ways to stop the mowing from occurring, and on the assumption that this area will have good growth of prairie, the plan will just be to monitor and control weeds.

Constructing Pathway Extensions

The extensions and areas are primarily associated with the new butterfly garden (see Master Plan) and consist of a segment extending south from the trail bisecting the centre of the property, passing between the two beds proposed for this location.  In addition, the plan is for James Ross’s crew to tidy up all of the existing pathways by treating the overgrowing vegetation and adding a layer of crushed limestone.

As indicated, the Plan also called for a small segment at the intersection of the west-central portion of the property to create a triangular space for a new flower bed. However, since the bed is no longer planned this area will involve smoothing out the angle of the intersection to reduce erosion of sod through foot traffic.  In addition, the Plan calls for a widening of the path at about the mid-point of the property to create the resting spot/node for one of the benches and eventual interpretive signage.

Installing Benches

As shown in the Master Plan, one bench would be installed around the central node on the property on the east side as the trail turns to the northwest from the east fence line, and another bench would be installed at the new butterfly garden. Hopefully it’s all there now!

Nick Barnes
Site Development Director


 

Landscaping Report – Summer 2014

From 2002-2007 approximately $500,000 was invested in developing the site, including two soccer fields, the play structure area, and grading, sodding and tree planting.  While the majority of the 2007 Master Plan was implemented a number of aspects were not, including the installation of trees along the Cloverwood fence line.  

In 2007 I developed a proposal to install an interpretive trail involving a pathway, native prairie plantings and interpretive signage.  The intent was to become part of the TransCanada Trail network connecting with the Fort Whyte Alive property (hence the need/petition for a pedestrian corridor across McGillivray) and provide a different type of recreational experience for residents outside of the sports facilities, and helping address the needs of an older demographic.  In addition, it was felt that the project could offer educational opportunities to Whyte Ridge Elementary and Henry G. Izatt Middle School.

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Whyte Ridge Community Centre Courtesy of Google Earth

In 2009 and 2010 the initial phase of the plan was implemented, involving a pathway and seeding with native prairie.  In addition, a “butterfly garden” was established at the south entrance to the path.  Unfortunately the butterfly garden became overgrown with weeds and the second phase of the interpretive trail was not completed.

The current plan is to complete the interpretive trail project and install flowers, shrubs and trees in other locations to finish “softening” the site.  Since it may not be feasible to access funding this spring the Board has tentatively agreed work with the City to investigate installing trees as an initial step to demonstrate progress and hopefully Community interest in supporting the process.  In addition, a local resident – Kelly Liebzeit – has expressed a keen interest in butterflies and native plantings and has agreed to assist.  She recently facilitated a fundraising presentation at the Community Centre on native landscaping, which we had advertised.

Kelly Liebzeit getting attendees to visualize a native garden

This current plan is to update and expand the scope of the 2007 plan and include interpretive elements such as the location on TransCanada Trail, the proximity to Fort Whyte Alive, the proximity to CP Rail line and historic relationship between railways and native prairie grasslands, aspen parkland and the importance of butterfly habitat, and local historic events consisting of the Lois Riel Stopping of the Survey and the Battle of Fort Whyte.

As indicated, the priority for this year is to install trees, ideally this spring, along the Cloverwood fence line and as shade areas on the east side of both soccer fields, and possibly installing benches for soccer players.  One or more open houses will be arranged as the plan develops.

Other Community Centre Development Options

Other development options being considered include updating/improving the soundproofing in the multipurpose room, installing an electronic remotely operated lock box, and installing an electronic sign that does not require manual letter placement.  The Board has decided to postpone decisions on these options pending more information about the building expansion project.  We are open to any suggestions for improving the Community Centre facility. Submit a comment under the Contact Us subpage here on our website.

Fundraising

While we don’t currently have a Fundraising Director (hint, hint), based on research I have identified 21 possible grant sources, including 15 for landscaping, three for programming and three for capital projects.  Other sources could involve a Community fundraising campaign (as has been done in the past) and searches for private investment sources.

It is noteworthy that over the past seven years the Community Centre has accumulated considerable surplus in funds through programming (~$135,000) and this has both positive and negative attributes – it allows opportunities to initiate projects immediately and can be used to apply for grants requiring matching funds, but may reduce opportunities to apply for smaller grants.

However, as indicated, prior to applying for funding there is a need to identify/list and prioritize projects first – which must involve transparency and communication with Community Members who in effect have provided the funding and will benefit from any investment.  This will involve use of the website, Spirit newsletter, and Community meetings/workshops.  Please stay tuned for more information, and we look forward to any assistance you can provide.

Nick Barnes
Site Development Director