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Fanshawe College pavement gets environmentally-friendly makeover in Depave Paradise project

Volunteers spent hours on Friday tearing apart a pavement at Fanshawe College in an effort to help the environment through the Depave Paradise project. London Environmental Network

Goodbye pavement, hello nature!

That was the London Environmental Network‘s mission after volunteers spent hours on Friday tearing apart a pavement at Fanshawe College in an effort to help the environment.

The initiative, called Depave Paradise, aims to transform underused outdoor spaces by replacing it with native plants and trees.

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“What we’re hoping is for the (new) space to be utilized by members of the public and that it’s accessible to the community,” said Marianne Griffith, the director of programs for the London Environmental Network.

Read more: Peterborough Depave Paradise project the largest of its kind in Canada

“(We can) replant the space with native species, increase pollinator activity and stormwater infiltration,” she continued.

The initiative is part of Green Communities Canada, a national non-profit. London is the latest city to join the Depave Paradise movement.

Skylar Franke, the executive director of the London Environmental Network, says pavements have a negative impact on the environment.

“When it rains, the water will wash away salt, debris, garbage … and all of that will go into our stormwater system, which goes into our rivers and lakes,” she explained. “By having green space, all that water will stay on the grass (and) none of that debris and chemicals run off into our waterways.”

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Griffith says the plan worked out perfectly, since the pavement was once used by Fanshawe College as a delivery spot.

It’s not being used much anymore, “so we might as well get some native plants, beautify the space and make it a more inviting area for the students,” she said.

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On Friday, professional crews cut into the pavement to make it easier for volunteers to pry up.

“It’s a very physical task (and) that’s intentional,” said Franke. “It would be much easier to have equipment come through, (but) we wanted to get the community involved and have a sense of ownership of the space.”

Around 100 square metres of pavement was dug up.

“If you want a visual for that, that’s roughly seven to 10 average parking spaces,” said Griffith.

The leftover asphalt will be recycled, grinded and turned into a new material, according to Franke.

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Volunteers will be returning on Friday, Aug. 27 to complete the area’s makeover by planting native plants and trees. Those interested in volunteering can sign up online.

The London Environmental Network has received funding to depave two more spots next year, one in London and one in St. Thomas.

Those with an underused pavement area interested in an environmentally-friendly makeover next year can contact the London Environmental Network.

–With files from 980 CFPL’s Jess Brady and Mike Stubbs

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