CALGARY — Okotoks has a new claim to fame after a late-week announcement: it has been designated one of Canada’s bee-friendly cities thanks in part to a late April vote by town council “to protect our pollinators.”
The program, sponsored by Bee City Canada, aims to encourage “municipalities to pledge to create and promote healthy, sustainable habitats for pollinators like bees, butterflies and moths.”
Okotoks mayor Bill Robertson said the designation reinforced the city’s motto, which is ‘Historic Past, Sustainable future.’
“We know that being a bee city will help us achieve a sustainable community for people, plants, and all critters who call Okotoks home,” Robertson said, in a release. “As we continue to protect and support native pollinators, we are excited to see the vibrant ecosystem that develops in our community.”
Okotoks has undertaken a number of initiatives to make itself pollinator-friendly, including replacing traditional turf with a combination of pollinator-friendly plants and ornamental grasses in many areas, including Sheep River Boulevard, Crystal Green Drive median, Big Rock Trail median and Veterans Way.
(This 2018 photo provided by the University of New Hampshire shows a ground nesting bee pollinating a flower in New Hampshire. The species is one of 14 declining wild bee species identified in a study published in April 2019 by researchers at the university. The new study has found that more than a dozen wild bee species critical to pollinating fruits and vegetables across New England are on the decline. (University of New Hampshire/Molly Jacobson via AP)
It’s all part of the Okotoks philosophy of balancing community expectations with environmental impact. Okotoks will continue to be proactive and innovative when it comes to the design, maintenance and management of public lands to maintain a sustainable community.
Okotoks becomes the fifth Alberta city and fourth in southern Alberta to be named bee-friendly. The others are Grand Prairie, Calgary, Airdrie and Chestermere.