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Council considers initiative to help Salmon Arm residents ‘lose the lawn’

Shuswap Climate Action Society planning to run pair of workshops
The Shuswap Climate Action Society is planning to run pair of workshops to help encourage and educate the community to move away from traditional lawns. (File photo)

The City of Salmon Arm is being asked to support a project aimed at getting residents to “lose the lawn.”

At its Aug. 28 meeting, council received a written request from Shuswap Climate Action Society (SCAS) for support to the tune of $1,000 needed to host a pair of webinar workshops intended to “encourage and educate the community to move away from traditional lawns to yards that contain trees, shrubs and plants (that) are native to our zone, drought tolerant, reduce fertilizer and pesticides, are pollinator-friendly and produce food.”

The webinars will be led by Keli Westgate of Lekker Land Design, and Sigrie Kendrick, executive director of the Okanagan Xeriscape Association. The first is planned for Oct. 18, 2023, the second for Feb. 19, 2024.

In its letter, titled “Project ‘Lose the Lawn’ – Transforming Yards into Multi-Purpose Garden Funding Request to the City of Salmon Arm,” SCAS refers to the city’s new water conservation strategy that includes different restriction stages, “with the goal of reducing high volumes of water used in the summer to maintain traditional lawns and gardens.”

“To address the dual need of long-term climate resilience and water conservation, SCAS is developing an online educational program for residents wanting to make changes but lacking the knowledge and experience to begin transforming their yards.”

Coun. Sylvia Lindgren questioned how the city might fund the initiative, which she saw as being in alignment with the city’s objective of reducing water use.

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond suggested staff see if the initiative is a “good fit and come back with a recommendation.” She later cautioned, if tax dollars are going to be spent on non-profits, “it has be vetted, it has to make sure that what is offered and proposed is in perfect alignment with what the city’s plans are…”

Coun. Tim Lavery was supportive of the initiative and of having staff come back with funding options. Coun. Kevin Flynn also spoke in favour, noting he’s interested in xeriscaping but doesn’t know where to start.

Coun. Debbie Cannon said the project should be part of the city’s watersmart initiative.

“I think it would be great to work with these community members on giving people thoughts and ideas – like Coun. Flynn for xeriscaping his dried out lawn, so he has a better idea what plants to use,” said Cannon. “I would like to see us find the money and work with them on this initiative they’re putting forward.”

On Wednesday, Aug. 30, water restrictions in the city were moved back from stage 4 to stage 3, allowing watering one day per week on designated days.

Read more: Summer drought of 2021 leads Salmon Arm to new water restrictions

Read more: Salmon Arm moves to severe Stage 4 water restrictions
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