Saanich mayor begins living roof planting process

Living roof expert Gord Baird (left), Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes and organic horticulture specialist Helen Hertel climbed up onto the roof without hesitation and began organizing the plants. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Haynes was beaming while showing off his living roof project. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
One of Haynes’ main goals was to ensure that the living roof would be a habitat suitable for the native pollinators. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Several layers have been used to give the plants something to hold onto, ensuring the plants aren’t going anywhere, and an irrigation system will keep the plants hydrated in the warmer months. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Haynes jumped in and got his hands dirty planting his living roof. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes got his hands dirty in a garden high above his house on Friday morning.

Haynes and his team broke ground on his new living roof and began the task of planting all the different plants that will make their home on top of the house.

Haynes and his wife, Kathy, wanted to minimize their ecological footprint and have worked hard to ensure their new home on Prospect Lake will have a “net-zero footprint” – the green space on the roof replaces the green space that the house takes up.

A lot of planning goes into a living roof and Highlands Coun. Gord Baird, also of Eco-Sense, helped plan Haynes’ roof. He recommends doing your homework. An engineer must ensure the roof can handle the added weight, insurance is required and then there’s the task of getting all the equipment and plants up to the roof.

Helen Hertel, owner of Helen Hertel Gardens, worked with Haynes and Baird to choose plants that would thrive on the roof, help the local pollinators and be aesthetically pleasing. The colour themes were carefully planned and plants were chosen so that something will always be in bloom from February to November.

Hertel chose both native and non-native plants ranging from camas to nodding onions. She also made sure there would be some crocuses and daffodils in the mix as they’re Haynes’ favourite.

Haynes noted the Capital Regional District is encouraging living roofs as there are so many benefits. They help to moderate the temperature inside the house so the heating and cooling systems aren’t used as often.

“Living roofs are cool and they cool,” Haynes added with a laugh.

There is an initial cost, Haynes explained, but the roof can be left alone with no maintenance for almost 100 years and in the long run, the benefits outweigh the expense.

He also noted Victoria has adopted a rainwater rewards program to offer folks who collect the water a tax reduction. Living roofs help make the water collection easier and the tax reduction is something Saanich will consider, he said.

Haynes is hoping to invite residents to take a tour in the spring when the roof is blooming.


@devonscarlett
devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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