Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Consider Not Driving

There has been a lot of coverage and complaining in the Red Deer media lately about the poor state of the roads and about winter driving conditions in general. While this is not the forum to air or give credence to those complaints, it is the place to perhaps offer some ideas that can take the stress out of winter driving.

The biggest step you can take is to simply not drive. Hear me out.

Most neighbourhoods in Red Deer have a strip-mall/shopping centre attached to them. Therefore most of us live within walking distance of a corner-store. While this won't cover the major grocery shopping needs, it does put you in close proximity of the essentials like milk and bread.

Many kids in Red Deer are fortunate enough to live reasonably close to their schools; close enough that they can walk most days. Those who don't live close enough, qualify for busing. Bundle them up in their snow pants, jackets, boots, toques, mitts and scarves (and do the same for you) and walk them to their school. And, for those of you who drop-off your kids on the way to work; is there a friend in the neighbourhood they can walk with? While we do get cold winter days, there aren't many that are too cold to walk to school in the morning. Use the -20 guideline that the schools use. If the temperature (real or windchill) is above -20 degrees Celsius, your kids will be playing outside at recess and lunch. If it's warm enough to play outside, it's warm enough to walk to school.

For commuters, rather than complain about the "traffic problem" or state of the roads on your morning drive to work, consider getting out of your car. On my way to work, as I cycle up 40th Ave, I notice that most vehicles have one person in them. Surely many of you are going to and from similar locations, leave your cars in parking stalls all day and could carpool with a friend or neighbour. This would solve two issues. One, you personally wouldn't be fighting with "traffic" everyday and two, we'd clear up some of the so-called "congestion" on the major arteries.

The other extremely viable option for commuters, is Red Deer Transit. The buses in Red Deer head into downtown and exchange at the depot. For most downtown-workers living in Red Deer, transit can be a cost-effective, efficient and non-driving means of getting to and from work. Let someone else do the driving (and stressing out) for you.

Now, the big challenge. Consider being a winter cyclist. A couple of studded tires, some warm clothes, a helmet and helmet liner and you're all set. Keep to the sidewalks to avoid the sliding cars and get a light so pedestrians can see you coming. There is a group of people in Red Deer who bicycle commute year-round (me included). While the temperature is an issue, the freedom of being away from traffic (especially if you use the Waskasoo Park Trail system) is well worth the temporary discomfort of a cold day. Winter cycling not only reduces the traffic load on our roads and the pollution in the air, it goes a long way to keeping you in shape for all the fun stuff you like to do in the spring/summer.

So, rather than complain about the state of our roads, try taking action toward a more sustainable and healthy commute, and leave the driving to others.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Shed Some Light -- November 12th

Just a reminder that our Shed Some Light fundraiser for new lighting for the Marjorie Wood Gallery is November 12th, 7 - 10 pm. There will be food, wine, a silent auction, and a variety of local art for sale. Each art piece goes for $25. This is a fantastic way to pick up some original art just in time for the holidays.

Tickets are $20 + GST and are available at the Nature Centre. Call 403-346-2010 for more information, or visit the Gallery's web page.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Morning Moose

One of the great things about Red Deer being in such close proximity to natural spaces is that often, nature takes the time to visit.

This morning we had three young moose essentially surround the Nature Centre. They ate the plants out of Kathryn's garden, nibbled at the trees in front of the building and, as you can see in the video, one got up on our loading dock.

This is a great reminder that even though we live in an urban centre, we are part of nature. Visits like these, show us that with some respect on our part, we can co-exist with wild animals.

In the Nature Nursery nook, outside my office window

Looking into the programs workshop while standing on the veggie garden (tomato cage to the left of the moose)

Just about to step up on the loading dock, from the veggie garden.

I guess we didn't need those seeds for next year

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Kids' bird feeding program

Kids’ Bird Feeding Program
Place: Kerry Wood Nature Centre
6300 45 ave
Red Deer
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Children’s Winter Bird feeding program
Bring your children aged 6 to 13 to the nature centre for this hands on program. We’ll look at and identify winter birds and learn what & how to feed them. Kids will construct a bird feeder and be given bird feed to take home. The seed and the feeder have a retail value of $14.95. The program cost is $7.00 per child for KWNC members and $8.00 for non-members. Children must be accompanied by an adult. To register call the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, 6300 45 Ave, Red Deer, telephone 403-346-2010. Please register by 4:00 pm November 25, 2010
For information call Bob at 403-346-2010 ext 103

Wash-out & trail closure

On October 29th, a City crew was flushing hydrants on the Michener Centre grounds. They ran their hoses under the fence and, unfortunately, washed away the hillside. The humus, topsoil, and even the silty mineral soil was swept away, undercutting and bringing down 5–10 trees, and blocking the trail with a deep blanket of muck.

The City is taking this very seriously, and has closed the trail around the lakes for this week while the hazardous tree crews remove the trees that might endanger perdestrians or workers. The mud on the trail will be removed, and the Wishart trail should reopen by next week.

Silt barriers will be left in place to prevent silation of the lake, and slope stabilization (including replantings of native species) will happen later.

It sounds like there is a substantial effort being made to prevent a similar thing from arising again in the future, too.

In the meantime, as tempting as it is, please respect the Closed signs and don't go through the washout area: work crews shouldn't have to worry about running over someone with a Bobcat or wonder if anyone will be in the way when they bring down a hazardous tree!

Burrowing owls or potato chips?

The threat to sell important wildlife habitat in southern Alberta, to convert it into irrigated potato fields, has been ended for now. Click here for more information.