Photo Credit: Hayley Whelan
In recognition of Arbor Day, the town of CBS will be receiving a grant of $25,000 to improve upon its green spaces. This grant will be awarded as a part of the TD Green Space Grant. These grants are distributed in support of the Arbor Day Foundation. The grants are generally given to projects or communities that serve low and moderate-income residents. This year, preference was given to projects that tackle the issue of green resilience in communities that were impacted more than most by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The town of CBS is using this money in part to provide a total of 200 trees to residents to be planted within the community and residential areas. As per the grant regulations, no more than 50% of the grant money can be used to purchase trees.
The town also hopes to put some of the money towards constructing a rain garden. A rain garden is a collection of plants that are situated in a low elevation, so that runoff and excess water from rainfall will be directed into the garden. Rain gardens are used to prevent flooding and erosion of the area, remove pollutants from the rainwater, and attract certain species of birds and butterflies. The rain garden in CBS will be installed at Manuels River and will be used for education purposes.
Hayley Whelan spoke with Memorial University student and lifelong CBS resident Meghan Power for a student’s perspective on the situation. Meghan is completing a Geography B.Sc. (Honours) degree. She is currently researching the impact of urban forest vegetation clearance on climate change-related river flooding in Newfoundland. According to her research, it may be important for us to increase urban forest vegetation (not just trees) in green spaces within CBS or Mount Pearl in order to protect the existing greenery and prevent flooding.
When asked about the current state of CBS’s green spaces Meghan said, “CBS has a lot of old mature trees in residential areas – and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of cutting.” She also pointed out that the Manuels River trail and park are still very natural, and we don’t see a lot of human alterations within CBS’s allocated green space areas. The Manuels River trail, for example, was built around the pre-existing urban forest. For contrast, Meghan says, we can look at Bowring Park in St. John’s. Bowring Park’s structure betrays the fact that it was methodically planned out instead of being built through a natural forest. If you go for a walk in Bowring Park, you will see a lot of non-native species of plants and trees. Green spaces exist in St. John’s only where they are supposed to be – where a park was allowed for in the city’s planning. We regularly see active vegetation removal in communities within Mount Pearl and St. John’s, while CBS appears to be striving for the opposite.
In terms of how the grant should be used, Meghan has a few suggestions of her own. In addition to the plans provided by the town of CBS, Meghan hopes that the grant will be used to improve existing forest spaces such as Manuels River and Chamberlains Park, which are lacking in infrastructure. Some of the paths on the Manuels River trail have been severely worn by foot traffic and weather, making them perilous at best during the colder months of the year.
Meghan also suggests that some of the money be put towards “contributing to citizens’ appreciation of green spaces – which is equally important.” The use of a rain garden for educational purposes is a small but meaningful step towards increasing community engagement in the building of green spaces. Allowing citizens to apply for a tree voucher and decide where to plant the tree is also a mark of progress in this area.
According to this MUN Geography student, productive use of the TD green spaces grant would split the bill about 50/50 – with half of the money going towards community gardening initiatives, and the other half going towards green space maintenance and further greening operations.