Qualico Communities Edmonton Puts Environmental Conservancy at the Forefront
Edmonton, AB – Wetlands are some of the most incredible habitats on the planet. They provide a wide range of ecological benefits, including water filtration, storm protection, and flood control, all while acting as a nursery for mammals, birds, and fish.
The Uplands at Riverview is a West Edmonton community that promotes stewardship of wetland habitats through its ground-breaking environmental initiatives, some of which are a first for the forward-thinking city. Right from the get-go, design guidelines for the community were focused on sustainable development, stemming from involvement with Yellow Fish Road, Canada’s premier water education program.
The program’s admirable mandate is to educate Canadians about the importance of keeping storm drains pollution-free, and it was this vision that served as inspiration for the community’s blue-prints.
View of The Uplands at Riverview community's natural setting
“As we started to look at the marketing of The Uplands at Riverview, we brought it all back to design, and the ‘feel’ we wanted for the neighbourhood,” said Reanna Rehman, Project Manager, Qualico Communities Edmonton. “We started with the concept of water conservancy, and from there we began to think about storm ponds, enhanced planting, and preservation of natural ecosystems.”
The Qualico Communities team began working with the City of Edmonton as well as a local landscape contractor, Urban Ecology, and together they came up with a design plan that matched their overall vision.
“One of the most unique features of this community is the amphibian fence,” said Greg Persson, Project Manager, Qualico Communities Edmonton. “The fence serves to mitigate conflict between humans and animals, guiding amphibians, such as frogs, to a safe crossing.”
Qualico implemented Edmonton's first-ever amphibian fence in The Uplands at Riverview community
Overall, amphibians have poorly adapted to travelling across the urban landscape, and by providing a barrier, amphibian road mortality is reduced. This in turn helps to preserve the natural ecosystem and promote stewardship of wetland habitats.
In addition to the fence, a wildlife crossing was created underneath 199th Street, acting as an underpass for animals, complete with boulder and log arrangements that provide a natural habitat.
Wildlife crossing underneath 199th Street, complete with boulder and log arrangements to provide a natural habitat
“It’s a complex system,” said Greg. “There is a large animal passage and a small animal passage, with drainage accommodations along the route too. It is definitely a multi-faceted system. It’s not just a bridge.”
Wildlife crossings practice habitat conservation, enabling connections between habitats. They also assist in reducing collisions between vehicles and animals, which in addition to killing or injuring wildlife, may cause injury to humans and property damage.
The Uplands at Riverview includes 3.6 km of multi-use trails, with a view of the utility corridor along the northern perimeter of the community. In an effort to enhance the space and use it for ecological gain, the passageway was turned into a pollinator corridor, providing habitat for pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and birds.
The Uplands at Riverview's pollinator corridor
The thousands of flowering shrubs and native species planted, not only serve to provide habitat opportunities for wildlife, but also protect water quality and reduce spraying and mowing maintenance.
As a final initiative, Qualico Communities also had yellow fish symbols and “Rainwater Only” text painted on storm drains to serve as a reminder to people that only rain should be entering the storm drain system.
The Yellow Fish Program initiative to serve as a reminder that only rain water should enter the community's storm drain system
“Overall, this is an important opportunity to connect with nature,” said Greg. “We’re a stone’s throw away from Wedgwood Creek, which feeds into the North Saskatchewan River. It’s important for people to have the pleasure of experiencing the natural environment, and it’s also important to support the wildlife and existing ecosystem as best we can.”
View of the creek by the community's wildlife crossing
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