The City of Waterloo is currently leading several community programs and initiatives that support healthy native pollinator populations. Community park projects include garden beds, living fence buffers, pollinator fedges around community vegetable gardens, removing invasive plant species, and community planting of wildflowers, trees and shrubs.
New initiatives such as the City’s Green Burial provides a natural means of caring for the deceased with minimal environmental consequences. The site is located in a natural setting, allowing native wildflowers and grasses to grow (photo below).
Waterloo’s Pollinator Working Group, established in May 2018, consists of many “worker bees” that are eager to learn, educate and participate in local events and stewardship activities. These volunteers provide educational tips via our Bee City e-news, offer hands-on educational activities at local events, and host community stewardship activities in city parks. Our key message is for residents to reduce their lawn and plant a pollinator patch.
With the Region of Waterloo becoming a “Bee Region” in 2020, the City of Waterloo is now encompassed under this umbrella as one of the tri-cities and four neighbouring townships. Together, our Bee Region working group is collaborating on public events and projects to create consistent messaging and create awareness about native pollinators. The major challenge in 2022 was the gradual re-opening after the 2 year pandemic which impacted indoor and outdoor public events and stewardship activities.
The City of Waterloo’s pesticide application is permitted only for public safety involving the management of Giant hogweed, a noxious weed which grows along waterways and has been implicated as a cause of severe dermatitis in susceptible individuals. The City of Waterloo educates the public about pesticide use, invasive plants and insect nests in trees on our Trees and yards webpage.
Waterloo is a proud partner in the Bee City initiative as a means to educate residents about native pollinators and to provide opportunities to reduce mown lawn and plant healthy pollinator patches.
Waterloo’s Pollinator Working Group, established in May 2018, consists of many “worker bees” that are eager to learn, educate and participate in local events and stewardship activities. Having a clear Terms of Reference and Volunteer Position Description provides clear expectations for being a volunteer on the Working Group, which assists in a smoothly running committee.
In less than two years, they have created educational information (a poster on favorite flowers and spring newsletter), display and craft materials, giveaways (pencils, native wildflower/herb seeds), face painting designs, and promotional materials with the assistance of City Communications team.
The Pollinator Working Group began an online sign-up form for residents interested in learning more about pollinators and getting involved in community stewardship activities. This has generated interest from 30 residents to date, who have suggested areas of interest to explore in the future. We are making connections with our local universities to engage the student community in stewardship activities and to share information and learn from each other.
The Waterloo Chronicle featured an article titled “WHAT’S GOING ON HERE: Waterloo volunteers creating buzz with pollinator garden in University Downs Park” on September 30, 2019. This pollinator patch project was spearheaded by a local resident Les Misch, with support from the Pollinator Working Group and neighbouring residents.
The City of Waterloo, Community Services, Environment & Parks Services division currently
undertakes a number of programs and initiatives that support healthy native pollinator populations including:
• Foster environmental education at local events
• Foster community-based stewardship through environmental stewardship programs (e.g. Partners in Parks program, Laurel Creek Citizens working group)
• Support naturalization of passive parkland through our community planting program involving the planting of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, woodland herbaceous plants
• Support community vegetable garden initiatives on public parkland
• Plant thousands of annual flowers in beds, hanging baskets and planters
• Plant flowering trees within parks and street boulevards
• Living Legacy program (2017) donated 2,017 native trees to Waterloo residents to plant on their own private property
• Policies and guidelines developed relating to naturalization efforts: Naturalization policy (2008); Mowing strategy (in progress); Native seed mix (in progress)
• Internal policy standards relating to bee, wasp and hornet nests in trees on street boulevards and parks (2008)
• Acquisition of environmental lands and associated buffer areas for long-term preservation such as natural regeneration of McNalley Lands (old alfalfa field) and establishing the University of Waterloo environmental reserve surrounding Westmount Sports Park
• Wildflower pilot project (meadow land adjacent to Forested Hills ESPA#19)