A large number of volunteers helped to plant trees and shrubs and to beautify the community during the 10th anniversary Go Green in Swift Current, Sept. 21.
According to Stark & Marsh CEO Elden Moberg there were around 150 volunteers who worked morning and afternoon shifts at various sites around the city.
“We're getting to a higher level than we've had,” he said. “When we started in 2009, we were probably around 70 or 80 and so we've doubled the population over that period of time. The City says that on this day from a Parks and Rec perspective they get about as much work done as in one month with their regular staff, and so that's quite impressive that we give them some additional support. They can get some additional projects done that otherwise just wouldn't happen.”
The event started when Stark & Marsh was looking for a project that will make a difference in the community. The company had discussions with the City and a need was identified for a fall clean-up.
“It's hard to believe actually that we've been able to do this for 10 years,” he said. “When we spawned the idea back in 2009 I think we were hoping that we would get some people involved and that they'd come and help out and that we'd be able to do this for a little while. To think that we've been able to do it for 10 years and that it has grown and that the projects have improved and the amount of people volunteering has increased, is pretty humbling and quite rewarding.”
For Stark & Marsh the initiative has become an affirmation of the company's commitment to the community. It recently created a video to celebrate Go Green's 10th anniversary, which was launched at a Swift Current & District Chamber of Commerce networking event.
“It's really a promotional piece that we can use for different things,” he said. “Whether that helps in our recruiting efforts or helps with people who understand that we have a commitment to the community, and that's something we feel is very important.”
This was the third year of Innovation Credit Union's partnership with Stark & Marsh and the City of Swift Current to host and sponsor the event.
Innovation Credit Union CEO Dan Johnson noted that employees have been volunteering at Go Green over the years, but the company wanted to take its involvement to the next level.
“As a credit union, we share out a lot and sometimes it's just a cheque to an organization, but this one is a bit different,” he said. “Not only do you get to share out financially, but you get to volunteer and you get to beautify the city. So there's a lot of additional elements to this. It seemed to be exactly what we thought to be important and we're just happy that the other two organizations allowed us to.”
For credit union staff members the event is a useful means to volunteer in the community and also to build team spirit.
“I just look at the staff that's here today and it's a different setting, it's more casual, there's a lot of smiles, and it's a different type of work,” he said. “We spend a lot of time at a desk and at a computer, and this gets us out. This is a really good way to get out and to spend some time in a different setting with some of the people that you work with all of the time.”
An important focus of the work done at different sites during this year's Go Green was to beautify areas in preparation for the Western Canada Summer Games, which will take place in Swift Current in August 2019.
“The City has done an outstanding job over the past number of years of really improving the sites,” Moberg said. “With the Western Canada Summer Games coming up next summer, they've used this year and last year to try and make some improvements in areas that would be beneficial for that project and the things we're doing are meaningful. You see the results and you can see them for years beyond. I think that's important from a volunteer perspective. We have a lot of people who are involved now and they are there for that reason that they can be part of something that you can say someday I was part of that.”
The work done at two site locations will have direct benefits for the efforts of the Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards (SCCWS) to enhance water quality and stream health within the watershed.
Volunteers helped to plant indigenous plants for a rain garden project on a site along South Service Road East, next to the Regier Honda dealership. This project received federal grant funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada.
The vegetation planted in a culvert will help to slow down stormwater before it enters the creek, which will reduce erosion and sedimentation.
“We have in the past found some issues with water quality just downstream from where that culvert is and that's the impetus why this project started,” SCCWS Executive Director Kevin Steinley said. “It definitely will work to improve water quality and improve it for downstream users.”
This project will have a number of other benefits. Reducing the flow of the water in the culvert might help to recharge the acquifer due to water soaking into the soil, the plants will filter out pollutants in the water, and the beautification of the site will be a benefit when the City extends the walkway along this part of the creek.
Another site next to Connaught Drive along the creek was revegetated with native trees and shrubs. This project received federal funding from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The volunteers at the site included staff from environmental consultants Matrix Solutions and JAG Landscaping.
Common burdock, an invasive weed species that is starting to show up in greater numbers in the watershed, was cleared from the creek bank. It will therefore avoid the spread of seed down the creek.
“It improves the site and it improves the look, especially on the walkway,” he said. “Eventually the trees will provide shade on the creek and provide an area for fish to be, especially on really hot days, because they prefer cooler water.”
The SCCWS has been involved with Go Green from the start and projects have evolved from creek clean-up to the planting of indigenous species that improve the integrity of the creek banks.
“We're a really small organization with a staff of two with maybe a summer student,” Steinley mentioned. “It allows us to have these projects where it takes a number of people, whether we need eight or 10 people. The volunteers that come out and help are a real source for us in terms of being able to get the work done in a timely manner and also many of them come with a lot of skills that we don't have to help out in a project too.”