New Edinborough Park

New Edinborough Park - Sunnyside

The history of pesticide-free parks in Calgary began in Sunnyside's New Edinborough park.  After a year of negotiation, residents and the City of Calgary Parks department agreed to suspend the use of pesticides on the park in 1998. This pilot project, set for five years, was the experiment that began the expansion of pesticide-free parks in the city. The neighbourhood had active, health-oriented residents and the park was well used year-round as a skating rink, sports field, and family playground.

Challenges and Successes

During the first five years, challenges included an outdated irrigation system which watered only part of the park and the relocation and upgrade of the playground which left large areas of open dirt in the park, vulnerable to weed growth. Furthermore, the park had been built on a swampy area used as a dumping ground, compromising the soil quality.

Despite these obstacles, the park was not taken over by dandelions or weeds during the period from 1998-2003. As the City's first pesticide-free park, New Edinborough began attracting people from across the city, especially those with small children who wanted to feel comfortable playing in the grass without chemical exposure.

Parenting Groups Meet in the Park

Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association Supports the Pesticide-Free Status

At the end of the pilot period, the Calgary Parks Department had developed a process for ongoing pesticide-free status. Residents struck a committee, polled the Park's neighbours, obtained overwhelming support, and presented to the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association. There were extra costs to the Parks department identified for pesticide-free status and for these, residents were to raise over $1000 per year. The financial obligation required that the Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association guarantee the funds raised by residents. The Hillhurst-Sunnyside Community Association Board supported the idea of the pesticide-free status but opposed the principle of the community association financially underwriting the park.  These negotiations have culminated in the Parks Department listing five parks as 7 year pilots for pesticide-free status with no cost to the local community associations.

How to Find out Which Parks are Pesticide-Free

Any other parks can become pesticide-free with the existing Parks Department policy. Some parks in the city are already pesticide-free due to size and layout. To find out about the pesticide-free parks policy, or which parks are currently pesticide-free, call the City’s info-line by dialing 311, and ask for the City Parks Department Integrated Pest Management Coordinator.

Annual Party Against Pesticides

In 2004, the park became the location of the Party Against Pesticides, attracting performers from across the city and across the neighbourhood to entertain residents. The Party linked community groups, neighbourhood projects, the local school, the community garden, and businesses in the area. The event has become a central feature of the neighbourhood's summer with food, bands, a costume procession, and a street hockey tournament.

The Community Loves its Park

Prior to the pesticide-free campaign, there was little community identification with the park; many residents didn't even know what it was called. Now, the park has a sign listing it's name and status as pesticide-free and is listed on the Hillhurst-Sunnyside walking tour. To address the loss of aging trees in the neighbourhood, a varied selection of trees were planted in 2006 and a state-of-the-art low consumption irrigation system was installed. Residents have not just taken on the responsibility of ensuring the park is healthy and vibrant today, but started looking to the future of a city free of unnecessary pesticides.

Click here for actions you can take to support a pesticide bylaw.