Categories: Environment

Environment File

Say goodbye to those ugly old planks – St. Albert’s decades-old park signs are being replaced as of this summer.

City of St. Albert park planning specialist Margo Brenneis announced last week that crews would replace the city’s old wood-plank park signs with new aluminium ones this summer.

Most of the city’s current park signs are brown wood planks with yellow text and date back to the 1970s and 1980s, Brenneis said. About half of the city’s 100-some parks have no signs at all.

Two years ago, the city started a $1.15 million effort to replace the city’s outdated, often decaying park signs.

The new signs are made of unstained, pressure-treated wood and aluminium done up in green, blue and yellow, Brenneis said. While there were plans to make the signs multidimensional, cost constraints mean that they will be single flat panels four to eight feet wide. Signs will show the name of the park, its hours of operation, and, using a series of icons, what activities are allowed in it.

“We’re going for longevity,” she said, with each sign expected to last 25 to 30 years.

Crews plan to replace 50 signs at 30 city parks starting next month with the signs in the Kingswood Day Area (the place with the solar-powered shed near the botanic park) and Kingswood Park (which is actually near Kensington Place).

“There’s been a lot of confusion over the last few years about those two parks,” Brenneis added, so they’re also being renamed to Kingswood and Kensington Park, respectively.

The other signs are all at high-use parks with sports fields or ice rinks, such as Fountain, Forest and Braeside.

The plan is to have the new signs in place by October, Brenneis said. The city will figure out the cost to update/place the rest of the city’s park signs next year.

Crews will salvage the old signs where possible due to their historic value, Brenneis said. The signs may be used in some sort of public art piece in the future.

Visit stalbert.ca/rec/parks/development/park-signage/ for details.

A well-known Morinville volunteer and environmental activist was honoured with a bench in her name this week – one that, ironically, is right next to the road she vehemently opposed.

Members of the Big Lake Environment Support Society dedicated a bench to long-time group member and Morinville resident Louise Horstman last week.

Horstman, a member of BLESS since almost its beginning, died last Jan. 16 of cancer.

Environmentalist Elke Blodgett said she and other board members decided to place a plaque on a city bench to recognize her contributions to Big Lake. (The plaque, which incorrectly identifies Horstman as a founding member of BLESS, was installed several weeks ago.)

Horstman did a tremendous amount of work for BLESS, and was instrumental in getting Big Lake designated as an Important Bird Area and a provincial park, said group president Al Henry.

She was also a member of the BLESS executive for many years and, as its president, was a leading voice against the construction of what is now Ray Gibbon Drive.

BLESS member Dave Burkhart recalled spending hours with her and Bob Russell (now a city councillor) hashing out arguments against Ray Gibbon Drive as part of the group’s submission to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on it.

While it’s unfortunate that the west bypass got built, Burkhart said that Horstman could still symbolically oppose it through this bench.

“When people sit here and listen to the traffic and look over there towards the (viewing) platform, they’ll realize there was an impact and that she was right.”

Blodgett said Horstman was a skilled organist, painter, photographer, poet and naturalist, and the one who sparked her own interest in Big Lake. She recalled how Horstman was standing in amongst the reeds when they first met, and seemed to grow out of the lake “like a cattail.”

“She was so passionate about the lake and the river it was like she was part of them.”

A wildlife biologist, Horstman was a member of the Alberta Environmental Council and helped plant thousands of trees as executive director of the Alberta Woodlot Association. She led the Morinville Public Library and Morinville Farmers’ Market, was a founding member of Alberta’s first Grandmothers to Grandmothers in Africa group, and was recognized by Bahá’is of St. Albert in 2015 as a global humanitarian and environmental steward for her volunteer efforts.

The bench is directly west of Ray Gibbon Drive along the Sturgeon.

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