Council back tracks on naturalization
City of Camrose council has opted out of their original naturalization plans for a scaled back version that has yet to be decided. File photo
The City of Camrose is reversing course on some of the naturalization project.
City council voted 6-3 to stop the current naturalization plan and then 7-2 for an altered version of naturalization that will scale back naturalization and return certain areas to a well-manicured state at the May 15 council meeting.
Critics of naturalization did not like the aesthetics of the program and also had concerns over rodent infestation and weed control.
These concerns were voiced at an open house on April 9 in which about 150 people turned out.
Proponents of naturalization cite the natural beauty that comes from the program once it reaches maturity as well as it being low cost to maintain and environmentally friendly.
The most vocal opponents were those who live on the south side of the city along Camrose Drive and the berm.
“I don’t have a problem with naturalization, but I’ve always maintained it’s not the right place for it,” said Mayor Norm Mayer. “When it’s abutting and getting close to houses, you have to respect their wishes also.”
Council was presented with several options by administration, which included maintaining the status quo, dropping naturalization all together, and a few amalgamated versions of the two extremes.
Councilor Bill Sears was adamant that the City should continue with naturalization as initially intended and to have patience with the process, despite objections voiced by homeowners in some of the areas.
“This is not a short-term project,” said Sears, during discussion of the motion.
“This is a long term project that takes a long time to see the benefits of it and I hope that we don’t lose site of the long-term benefits by some short-term disadvantages. I’m trying to keep focused on the long term and what this is going to look like in 10, 15 years, because if we don’t plant trees, we won’t have them If we don’t start down this road, we won’t have this look to the city in 10-15 years.”
There are issues with returning some of the original spaces to a park-like state, including increased costs for maintenance, actual language for what is considered the berm — the entire length of Camrose Drive or the ridge with the walking path — and what to do with certain contentious areas that have been planted with saplings to be a forested area, not a straight line of trees.
The parks department was directed to come up with specific options for the next council meeting.