Calgary does give the impression that it is increasingly becoming more urban in nature. Certainly the population has increased over the last few years, enticed by good paying jobs and favorable housing costs. But the city is also doing its part to preserve part of the natural world, specifically those wetlands that are still undeveloped.
For years Calgary has required developers to pay compensation to the city if any of their projects involved taking up land that has been designated a wetland. Fees have been imposed of up to $400,000 per hectare. While at one time this might have been a deterrent, in the current climate developers are choosing to pay on the spot in order to build. Chris Manderson, who is with Calgary Parks, wants to change this system.
Manderson’s idea is a no-net-loss regulation, meaning that if a developer uses a wetland, that natural area must be recreated somewhere else, at the developer’s expense. The city is already practicing a form of this by trying to keep parts of wetlands surrounding developments in their natural state, but this doesn’t always work. Wetland areas cannot be cut off from their water source, or they are no longer wetlands.
But plans are already underway to restore wetlands west of Deerfoot Trail. Laycock Park will be built using some $7 million of the money collected from different development projects. The park will have ball diamonds and play areas, including a toboggan hill. But it will incorporate Nose Creek, a meandering waterway that runs through the area. The city will have to restore the native vegetation, which will in turn attract native animals to the area.