What sparkles in the story of Strathcona County (as in many of the ChooseWell stories) is the willingness of residents, local government, charities, special interest groups and businesses to work together towards common goals.
As communities lean into the ChooseWell tag line of Eat Right, Be Active they discover many unique, local ways to achieve these goals. The Strathcona County Regional trail is one example of a collaboration between stakeholders such as the Trans Canada Trail, Strathcona County and the River Valley Alliance. A passionate cyclist from the community spearheaded the creation of a map highlighting history, art and play opportunities along the trail for families and individuals to enjoy. Some of these hidden gems include a Bee Pollinator Hotel and a Fish ladder.
The Bee Pollinator Hotel is part of the The Legacy Forest and Pollinator Habitat planted by volunteers from Strathcona in Bloom and County staff in 2016. The outdoor space includes informational signage, trees, shrubs, perennials, native and edible plants, benches, bumblebee boxes and a ‘bee hotel’. There are more than 370 plants in the garden which attract native bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, hoverflies, hummingbirds and other birds. Residents can visit the outdoor space to find pollinators foraging and see firsthand, how to incorporate pollinator habitat into their own gardens.
The commitment of the community to benefit from the resources and energy of everyone is further demonstrated by the creation of the Community Partnership Projects Policy. This policy provides a road map for how projects can proceed when they are sponsored by diverse stakeholders such as community associations, sports associations, boards of education or health, as well as the private sector. This road map has empowered the county to say “Yes, Let’s Explore” rather than “No” when they are approached by the community with ideas and passion. Pickle ball courts, community gazebos, playgrounds and a bike skills park have all been created through this policy.
According to Jennifer Wilson, with Strathcona County, the passion is there, in the community and in the staff! It is that passion as well as the willingness to collaborate which has helped things to happen, from trails and play grounds to urban gardens and bee pollinator hotels.