The land now known as Alberta, has been occupied by people for around 8,000 years. Until less than 150 years ago only the sky and the North Saskatchewan River dominated the views across the sweeping prairie vistas where the City of Edmonton now stands. The success of its continued occupation of these lands will be closely related to the stability and quality of the water supply.
The City of Edmonton straddles the North Saskatchewan River which has its headwaters in the Columbia Icefield, high in the Canadian Rockies. The river flows east across Alberta and Saskatchewan to Lake Winnipeg before eventually draining through the Nelson River into Hudson Bay.
Water runs through Canada’s rivers like blood through the country’s veins. Since time immemorial, people who have inhabited the Prairies have relied on the rivers to sustain life. The North Saskatchewan River is part of one of Canada’s most historic waterways and has anchored the urban and economic development of much of Canada’s western prairies.
Alberta’s economy is one of the strongest in the world and to a significant extent its industries rely on an abundant supply of water. While the Saskatchewan River Basin was once predominately covered with wetlands and grasslands, population increases and industrial land use have placed heavy pressure on the water supply and rendered Alberta the most vulnerable of the Prairie Provinces to water shortages.
This situation is compounded by indications that the mountain supplies of water are diminishing. Most large glaciers in the headwaters of the Saskatchewan, Bow and Athabasca rivers have shrunk by ~25% in the last century. Environment Canada has stated that the sustainability of freshwater supplies is a growing concern worldwide and it lists the threat to water availability in Alberta as moderate to high.
Cairns are used as trail markers in many parts of the world, in uplands, on moorland, on mountaintops, near waterways and on sea cliffs, as well as in barren deserts and tundra. They vary in size from small stone markers to entire artificial hills, and in complexity from loose conical rock piles to delicately balanced sculptures and elaborate feats of megalithic engineering. Cairns may be painted or otherwise decorated, whether for increased visibility or for religious reasons. An ancient example is the inuksuk (plural inuksuit), used by the Inuit, Inupiat, Kalaallit, Yupik, and other peoples of the Arctic region of North America. These structures are found from Alaska to Greenland. This region, above the Arctic Circle, is dominated by the tundra biome and has areas with few natural landmarks.
In modern times, cairns are often erected as landmarks, a use they have had since ancient times; but, since prehistory, they have also been built for a variety of other reasons, such as burial monuments and for defence and hunting, as well as ceremonial, astronomical, and other purposes.
Cantharellus formosus is a mycelium commonly known as the Pacific Golden Chanterelle mushroom and is native to the Pacific Northwest. The popular edible mushrooms are the fruiting bodies that form on nodes of much larger mycelium organisms that live in the soil and criss-cross the region in vast networks.
The Pacific Golden Chanterelle, like other fungi, are ancient forms of life. Pacific Golden Chanterelle share an intimate and symbiotic relationship with the West Coast’s conifer forests and especially the mighty Western Cedar. These two very different species support each other in a mutually beneficial way at a cellular level, giving and taking important resources that lie beyond each other’s reach.
The Pacific Golden Chanterelle is fed by, and in return feeds, the conifers while actively supporting its community, helping to support soil structure, regulate moisture content and recover nutrients from decomposition. The Pacific Golden Chanterelle lives off the land with its amazing web of branching, connecting hyphae and in doing so strengthens the surrounding landscape.
Conifer forests once fully covered Burnaby, BC and as early as 5000 years ago this area was the foraging and hunting territory for native aboriginal societies. The Pacific Golden Chanterelle featured in the diets of Coastal First Nations and they remain popular delicacies in locally sourced cuisine today.
Pacific Golden Chanterelle mushrooms still appear in local forests from July to December and are identified by their orangy-yellow colour, meaty texture and funnel-shape. On the underside of the smooth cap, the mushroom has gill-like ridges that run down onto its stipe, which tapers down seamlessly from the cap. The false gills often have a pinkish hue. Chanterelles have a mild, sweet odor, are very high in Vitamin D, Iron, Copper, and Niacin. It is interesting to note that Vitamin D is especially important to humans who live in places that can have low-light conditions.
Since Settler times the landscape around Burnaby’s Metrotown has been transformed and today it is a busy urban centre and hub for transit and retail. Maps of Metrotown show how it is connected to its neighboring cities and communities by a network of roads, including the historic Kingsway, the Skytrain as well as many bus routes and cycle networks. More detailed maps indicate an additionally complex web of power lines, water lines, and communication networks that interconnect and support city life like a giant hidden organism.
Each pathway and connection provides an opportunity for social interaction and the sharing of ideas. Mycelium like Cantharellus formosus can be understood as an organic metaphor for the interconnected social networks that bind modern urban communities such as Burnaby’s Metrotown area together – each part connected to the next.
The 55.2 hectares (136.5 acres) Garden City Lands, located between Westminster Highway, Alderbridge Way, Garden City Way and No. 4 Road, is within Vancouver’s protected Agricultural Land Reserve and plays a crucial role as a wildlife refuge in the City of Richmond. The green spaces like is an incredible amenity for the people of Richmond and is also a vital habitat and hunting ground for several rare or threatened species including the Barn Owl.
Barn Owls can and will cohabit with other owls, bats and small birds like doves and sparrows. Barn Owls prefer quiet cavities to nest or roost either in trees or tall structures with multiple openings. They easily take to nest boxes placed on poles or mounted on modern barns as long as the box is at least 3-4 m above the ground and safely out of reach from raccoons and other predators. Once Barn Owls discover a nest box it will normally be used every year.
Research shows that even a single nest box can mean survival for local Barn Owls and can help increase threatened populations significantly. The Richmond Nature Park, located only a short distance from the Garden City Lands, manages a Barn Owl nest box program with seven nest boxes installed around Richmond on behalf of the City. The three nest boxes located at Terra Nova Rural Park all reared young in 2014!
There is potential for at least one more Barn Owl nest box at Terra Nova and several other suitable locations have been identified around Richmond and earmarked for funding when it becomes available.