Community Matters

Nick Barnes

Hey Whyte Ridge! I was asked to report on some of the activities occurring in the community this summer, so here goes.

Like many places around the world, we had a really hot summer this year, and I don’t know about you, but my lawn really suffered for it. I had more success growing weeds than grass. Our open spaces around the community were no different. Canada thistle, in particular, has been a nuisance at the community centre, especially in the naturalizing areas. I asked Rod Penner, the City Naturalist, if he could help, and a crew came out in early August to cut down the plants. The plan is to come back in the fall to spray the areas of thistle re-growth with a broadleaf herbicide called Milestone, which is particularly effective at killing thistle. Rod said that naturalized areas do not fall under the Province’s Pesticide Reduction Regulation and so herbicides can be used. Weeds aren’t only limited to Whyte Ridge; I’m pretty sure that’s purple loosestrife in the pond by the technical college, an aggressive non-native species.

While lawns and soccer fields have been struggling, by contrast the tall grass prairie areas at the community centre are really thriving. The controlled burn in the spring of 2017 really paid off, and their deep roots allow them to withstand dry periods. There are a few areas now where the Big Bluestem is taller than I am! I’m hoping we can expand the prairie area a little next year.

In addition, most of the native flower seeds that Native Plant Solutions added to the trailhead area in the spring have germinated, and Kelley Liebzeit has again organized a team of volunteers to manage the butterfly garden.

In addition to weeding and adding some plants in the butterfly garden, she added some drought-tolerant flowers to the three planters. I’m still hoping we can convince the local schools to incorporate our interpretive trail into education programs one of these years!

As indicated, unfortunately with the hot dry summer the soccer pitches around the community are starting to look a little like paddocks, especially around the goal areas. Hopefully a wetter fall will help repair some of the damage, but I’m thinking some more active help around one of the goal mouths at the elementary school, and at the south pitch at the CC might really help. I recall about 10 years ago when we organized a group of volunteers to install sod which the City provided. It might be time to repeat this.

The retention ponds also saw lots of algae growth this summer due to the warm weather, and the City had to bring out the harvester barge to remove the areas of heavy growth. You may have noticed that the fountain on the east pond was shut off for a few weeks.
This was to stop the algae from moving around and allow the barge to remove it. It looked like they may have added some herbicide to the west pond. The algae didn’t stop the pelicans from hanging around all summer, likely feeding on the brown bullhead fish, and a couple of families of Canada geese also stayed in the community all summer, occasionally blocking traffic. They seem to get less scared of walkers by each year, but keep back if they start hissing and arching their necks!

It was good to see City crews repairs some of the damaged sidewalk in Whyte Ridge during the summer.  Hoping they plan on coming back to finish as there are still a few cracked slabs that I need to avoid when jogging. You probably also noticed that the pathway and benches in Scurfield Park, between the elementary school and the hill, was replaced this summer, including a noticeable widening of the asphalt. It’s part of the City’s pathway renewal program to bring paths in line with the new Universal Design Standards which call for widths of 2.5 m. It required some re-grading in areas to accommodate drainage and the segment at the entrance was realigned to avoid the shallow roots of the cottonwood trees. The plan is to have the project finalized and landscaped before the start of school.

The community centre basketball court continued to get lots of use this summer – I think it’s still ranked as one of the best outdoor courts in the City. I’m sure that placing a portable net in the east rink would also attract lots of players too. It’s also great to see the new pickleball courts in the east rink, and you can rent equipment at the CC.  I haven’t seen them used yet and I wonder if it might be worth making them available in the evenings.

And finally, construction work on the Whyte Ridge Baptist Church seems to be progressing well.  It’s currently scheduled for completion winter of 2019.  I wish them all the best and a smooth transition to the new home.

That’s all I have for now – enjoy the fall!