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District working out kinks before expanding pollinator gardens

A Kitimat resident is advocating for the slopes of the new Haisla Bridge to be transformed into vibrant wildflower greenways.
Kitimat’s first pollinator garden, intended as urban sanctuaries for native birds, bees and other wildlife, was planted at Mountainview Square in May last year. Prompted by a query from a Kitimat resident, the department of leisure services says they plan on expanding the program, but it is still in the experimental stage.

A Kitimat resident is advocating for the slopes of the new Haisla Bridge to be transformed into vibrant wildflower greenways. 

Leanne Sutherland presented her proposal in a short letter to the district, read at the June 4 council meeting, highlighting both aesthetic and environmental benefits. 

Sutherland emphasized the advantages of attracting pollinators such as bees, which would enhance the natural environment. “It would be a beautiful addition, potentially safer than having to mow the hillsides,” she wrote. “It could also reduce district mowing costs.” 

Kitimat introduced its first pollinator meadow in Mountainview Square last May. 

These gardens, comprised of native plants, support ecological balance by providing nectar for various pollinators, including hummingbirds, bees, bats, moths and butterflies. 

Coun. Michelle Martins expressed interest in expanding the program to the new bridge and requested input from Martin Gould, the district’s director of leisure services. 

“I know the one we have by the doctor’s office is very popular, and the feedback on Facebook was very favourable for more,” Martins said. 

Gould mentioned plans to extend the program to areas in front of Save-On-Foods, the clothing store and the pet store this year. 

However, he cautioned that the initiative is still too young to think beyond those plans. 

“The pollinator garden is currently, what our horticulturist would say, ‘in the experimental stage,’” Gould explained. 

He warned of the risks of inadvertently introducing invasive species, and the challenges of reseeding non-self-pollinating flowers. 

Additionally, Kitimat’s unique climate, with its extreme temperature fluctuations and variable weather, also poses significant challenges in plant selection. 

The feasibility of extending the program to the Haisla Bridge area hinges on these ongoing experiments. 

Gould mentioned that once the team has a good understanding of which wildflowers are most successful, expanding to other areas, including the Haisla Bridge, could be considered. 

“We’re keen on having wildflower gardens in the community because they add a lot of beauty and serve as pollinator gardens for insects, including bees. In today’s world, we have to look at helping the environment wherever we can,” Gould said. 

Addressing the cost implications, Gould acknowledged that while establishing a wildflower garden might initially seem cheaper than maintaining a lawn, the long-term costs would need careful evaluation. The decision would depend on the number of hours required for mowing versus maintaining the garden. “It’s a great idea. In the next few years, we should become more attuned to expanding the program.” 


About the Author: Quinn Bender

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