| Environmental Columns

Pointe-Claire’s green spaces: Four seasons in the life of Public Works

The Public Works teams maintain the City’s parks and green spaces, and preserve and maintain the canopy. While these teams work year-round planning and carrying out their work, their peak season is spring, then summer, when they open and maintain outdoor public spaces so that everyone can enjoy them. Discover everything they do!

Spring is about preparing for summer!

Starting in April, as winter draws to a close, Public Works staff are busy preparing the vehicles, machinery and tools that will be used during the season. Once the snow has melted, winter protection and covers on flowerpots are removed and, with the return of warmer temperatures, it is time to open the outdoor plant warehouse in the Public Works yard.

The horticulture team then gets busy cleaning the beds and planters in order to prepare for planting. Meanwhile, other trades are cleaning parks and green spaces to remove debris and any remaining fall leaves that were buried under the snow. They can then install the tables in the parks and inspect the condition of the benches as well as the garbage and recycling bins, repairing or replacing them as needed. The sports fields and play structures are also inspected to make sure that all of the installations are safe for users. This operation is repeated regularly throughout the summer.

It is also during this period that some 43,000 flowers and other annual plants are delivered to the Public Works yard, including 85 varieties of flowers to embellish public spaces and feed the pollinators! The horticulture and arboriculture teams consider several elements when choosing the best adapted plants and ensuring their health, such as:

  • The location where they will be planted
  • The level of maintenance required
  • The type of soil
  • The winter conditions at that location
  • Their resistance to pollution, de-icing salt, etc.
  • Their size at maturity, so that they do not interfere with the visibility of drivers and pedestrians
  • The possibility of dividing them and using them later in other areas

The plants are also selected on the basis of their role in the ecosystem where they will be planted. For example, in Pointe-Claire, it is important to have flowers and plants that promote the proliferation of pollinators. This is particularly important around the Central Library. Since the City’s beehives are set up on the roof of the building, we make sure that the bees find the flowers they need to do their work! During your next trip to the Library, take a few minutes to observe the flowerbeds around the building. You’ll see the bees gathering pollen! Above all, do not disturb them!

Flowers and lawns on the agenda

During the spring, passers-by will see gardeners busy at work, through good weather and bad, as they maintain and plant the landscaping around municipal buildings and main thoroughfares, and embellish public spaces. They deserve our gratitude—for ensuring a vibrant and colourful City!

Pointe-Claire’s green spaces also include 34 parks where, each and every day, teams mow the lawns, keep weeds at bay, care for the plants and ensure that the garbage and recycling bins are emptied. The Public Works teams maintain over 600,500 m2 of grass annually—the equivalent of 84 soccer pitches! As for the sports fields, in addition to seeding and maintaining the grass there every day, they also maintain the marked lines.

No herbicides are used to control unwanted plants. Instead, our teams use aeration, pH balance and the seeding of white clover or a seed mix adapted to the site.

Fall is about preparing for winter!

In the fall, while the teams continue to mow lawns, they are also starting to prepare for winter. They pick up the vast quantities of fall leaves. In October and November, they remove the annuals that won’t survive the winter from the City’s various landscapes, prune bushes and plants and protect the plants that are vulnerable to frost.

Winter is about preparing for summer!

During the cold season, the horticulture and arboriculture teams work with landscape architects to prepare for the next season. They identify the plants and annuals to be added, prepare landscaping, decide on the types of plants that will be added, the ones that need to be replaced and those that can be moved to other sites, so that they can hit the ground running in the spring.

During the winter, arboriculturists also identify trees on the territory that could pose a danger, trees that have been affected by diseases like the emerald ash borer, and dead trees. In the spring, these trees are pruned, treated or felled when necessary. New trees are planted to replace those that have been lost.

The City of Pointe-Claire adopted an urban forestry policy (https://www.pointe-claire.ca/en/urban-forestry/) to ensure the renewal, maintenance and preservation of its urban forest cover. This policy guides the City’s actions to preserve the flora on the territory and to ensure the healthy diversification of species. Public Works tends to some 21,000 trees on public land and green spaces, which represents 10% of the total area of the territory.

Several strategies are employed to achieve these goals: planting more trees than those that are felled; diversifying the tree species in order to ensure a robust canopy in the event that a disease attacks a particular species; bolstering banks to prevent erosion; reusing the bulbs of certain plants in other locations; removing invasive plants and reorganizing those spaces. In addition, to accommodate and protect the fauna on our territory, certain tree trunks are preserved as totems to provide animals with nesting sites, protection and food.

With the goal of sustainable development and waste reduction, the City has established a wood reuse procedure: we produce ramial chipped wood, also known as RCW or wood chips. RCW is a source of nutrients for plants and soil, which is why it is used in the City’s landscaping. It also helps to maintain the soil’s humidity, which reduces the need for watering and limits weeds.

These same wood chips are used on the trails in Terra-Cotta Natural Park to prevent them from becoming muddy. Trail maintenance begins in the spring and continues through the summer to ensure that they are useable and safe. A portion of the wood chips is redistributed to residents. In total, 2,000 m3 of mulch is produced by the Public Works team each year!

The employees working in the parks and green spaces are very busy, summer and winter! Throughout the year, they work to ensure a healthy forest cover, maintain our installations and create vibrant green spaces for residents to enjoy!