Many of New Brunswick’s city and town halls have things like clock towers or bell towers on their roofs.
Sackville has gone a different route. Its town hall roof is home to a park.
The new “green roof” hosts reeds, grasses, flowers, and picnic tables.
It was built with an eye toward incorporating natural elements to help combat flooding and climate change.
“Storm water management using natural infrastructure,” said Amanda Marlin, the executive director of EOS Eco-Energy, the organization that helped the town plan and build the park. “The plants suck up the rain, the layers and stuff help absorb the rainwater.”
“We’re reducing run-off of the building and that’s helping to reduce flooding, or flood risk in town,” said Marlin.
The project is now in the final stages, after years of planning and fundraising, as well as receiving funding from the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change.
The original blueprints for the new town hall building had to include the structural supports within the building’s foundation in order to accommodate the extra weight of water and soil.
“That was all taken into consideration when they designed this building,” said Dwayne Acton, Sackville’s town engineer. “The entire area was designed for a green roof.”
Like any municipal park, the rooftop is open to the public.
Its unique setting is already attracting interest from locals, who see the blend of modern infrastructure and nature as a “teachable moment.”
“One of our courses will be taught up here,” said Fiona Black, a professor at nearby Mount Allison University. “To be thinking through nature, mindfulness, and environmental ethics, and how the humanities as a group of disciplines can be responding to climate change too.”
Black teaches in the religious studies department, and also works with the university’s Research Partnerships in Community Engagement. That program works to bridge the gap between university communities and the community that hosts the school.
She says they also worked to help bring the new park to fruition in order to give younger students in the nearby Marshview Middle School an opportunity to see how infrastructure in the future could help combat climate change.
“We always find that you can certainly sit students down in a classroom and tell them about the things, but it’s much better to bring them into this context and get them planting, get them thinking about plants, and touching things,” said Black.