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City of Edmonton Strengthens Its Core


City of Edmonton Strengthens Its Core
by Ashley Carlton

In September 2016, the second largest city in Alberta, Canada will celebrate the completion of a progressive stormwater management project in its city of Edmonton. Prior to its completion, a project update offers some compelling and exciting information on the project’s progress.

Taking place just northwest of the downtown core on 105th Street, Canada’s “festival city” has partnered with ISL Engineering, Carmack’s, a large civil contractor, and Citygreen West, an international leader in sustainable landscape systems. The project’s stakeholders focus on the revitalization of existing streets, sidewalks, and curbs that are, “well past their lifetime,” reported Matthew Biggs of Citygreen West.

Edmonton’s city limits holds seven sectors, with the mature downtown sector at its core. Surrounding it are six suburban neighborhoods. The majority of the buildings and infrastructure built prior to the 1970’s, and the new generation is taking steps to revitalize their city infrastructure and take an active role in the management of stormwater.

“Primary goals of the city are to remodel the streetscape as part of a plan to upgrade the area…The present street is an aging warehouse and industrial zone, which is being upgraded to a modern, sustainable multi-family dwellings,” said Biggs.



Upgrades are meant to allow for a flourishing urban forest, in conjunction with a responsibly planned stormwater management system that proves successful, “by directing street stormwater into large soil filled tree pits and draining it through collection pipes at the base of the tree growing areas,” said Biggs. The ultimate solution for Edmonton’s design challenges is Citygreen’s innovative Stratavault soil cell system.

The open matrix design boasts unique advantages that presented solutions to challenges and considerations like project cost, transport, installation, as well as the need for green infrastructure and stormwater quality objectives. The cell’s components are able to nest inside one another and are constructed of lightweight polymers, allowing for significantly lower costs in freight. Once the product is at the installation site, their simple construction doesn’t require unique tools or specialized labor, thus also allowing for a smaller task force.

The Stratavault’s open design allows for the unhindered installation of all necessary subterranean construction, such as water pipes. Even so, with its “quick and simple to assemble” matrix design, the cell system continues to provide the surrounding sidewalks, “with sufficient structural integrity to withstand traffic loads,” Biggs noted.


The open voids allow for tree roots to establish and grow as naturally as possible in the oxygen-rich soil, a thing of the future compared to conventional single slab planters. These conventional builds have soil that is too compacted for natural root growth, or for rainfall to be properly absorbed and redirected, resulting in unhealthy or dying trees, eroding landscaping, and ultimately, unnecessary expense in the city’s green infrastructure plans and initiatives.

With 105th Street’s central location inside the city, the active efforts to reduce the damaging effects of unmanaged stormwater levels require large pipe sweeps to be safely integrated into the Stratavault installations. In short, Citygreen’s cell systems are offering the city of Edmonton solutions to all the project’s concerns and goals with a single product.


An innovative process “approved by the Stratavault manufacturer” was proposed featuring 200mm, eight-inch water pipes, which were able to be safely integrated and routed through the cells, “with minimal interruption to the structure.” Because the Stratavaults are interlocking, void of bolts or other connectors, individual single leg sections of the matrix system can be removed for the pipe sweeps, leaving the top layer in place. The sidewalk structure is then reinforced with a bridging section layered on top of these particular areas. This engineering modification would not have been as likely with another form of green technology.

Since the project’s onset in May 2015, the first tree pits have been installed, and were backfilled with soil quickly and efficiently by Carmack’s subcontractor, 7M Landscaping.

In a final statement on the partnership with Edmonton’s city staff, Biggs reported that the installations are already showing positive results. “This retains the key feature of the Stratavault cell structure – it’s strength as a connected matrix….” just like the interconnecting streets and communities within the city of Edmonton itself.

This project was supplied by Citygreen West, ph (780) 462 5064

Lonsdale Street Transformed into Melbourne Green Boulevard

LonsdaleSt Dandenong 2011 03 02


Lonsdale Street transformed into Melbourne green boulevard - with benefits to the bottom line
by Sally Cameron

In the heart of Melbourne’s growing southeast corridor lies the City of Dandenong. In 2010, a comprehensive ‘Revitalising Central Dandenong’ initiative was launched by the Victorian government through Places Victoria. Seeking to rejuvenate the rundown Lonsdale Street precinct, a team of renowned Landscape Architects, Engineers, and Builders came together to create a fresh new future for the city.

Five years down the track, the project has proven to be an overwhelming success, with Lonsdale Street now considered one of Melbourne’s great boulevards. A green, pedestrian-friendly main street encompasses the city’s vibrant retail industry with wider footpaths, various urban furniture, bicycle stands, and – the jewel in the crown – 251 thriving Pin Oak trees. In line with urban stormwater best practice, there are also a number of rain gardens which capture and treat stormwater, which is then reused for irrigation.


Today, the thriving streetscape looks as if it’s always been there, belying the comprehensive engineering and technology below ground that made it all possible. Whilst the original design specified reinforced concrete slabs supported by streel screw piles over a continuous soil trench, the suspended slab ultimately proved too expensive due to poor ground conditions. Argot Consultants Pty Ltd & KLM Spatial were engaged to investigate cost-effective alternatives to piling, and after seeing several successful projects in Auckland, New Zealand, Citygreen’s Stratacell product was selected.

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Landscape contractor Sugan Blanchard, of Canteri Bros Construction Pty Ltd, said, “Argot Consultants Pty Ltd & KLM Spatial came up with the Stratacell system, which provided cost and time saving to the project. The main cost saving was on the reduced thickness of the slab as it was designed as a slab on ground instead of suspended slab. We had never used this system before but found it to be easier to install and time efficient, providing the structural strength to overlying pavement while allowing uncompacted growth media for trees.”

Landscape Architect, Scott Adams, Director of Taylor Cullity Lethlean, counts the Lonsdale Street project as one of the firm’s landmark projects. Adams said, “The Lonsdale Street site proved to be really challenging, and the Stratacell product was the solution that got sign off from Argot Consultants Pty Ltd & KLM Spatial Engineers. Thankfully, the project was completed on time and the product hasn’t failed despite significant surface traffic. It’s definitely been successful in generating the result we wanted, with the trees performing well. As a result, we’ve recommended the product on a number of subsequent projects.”


Theo Niakolas, Principal Engineer at Argot Consultants Pty Ltd, echoes this sentiment. “From our perspective, the project has been a success, and the clear evidence is the health of the trees. The cells have performed well in terms of providing support to the hard stand paving above, as expected during design. No adverse distress of the rigid pavement is evident. We’ve since suggested the product in other streetscape projects too numerous to identify.”

Today, Lonsdale Street is unrecognisable, transformed from a grey, uninviting locale into a green, thriving streetscape for residents, workers, and visitors to enjoy.


Stratacell praised in Bankstown CBD upgrade



Stratacell praised in Bankstown CBD upgrade
by Sally Cameron

Seven years since its completion, the Bankstown City Council CBD streetscape upgrade has been heralded an enduring success. In 2008, both the CBD Bus Corridor and Transport Interchange were refurbished with a reconfigured street layout and circulation, new granite pavements, street furniture, and trees. The project won first prize in the Local Government / Public works category of the 2009 Engineering Excellence Awards of the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia NSW (IPWEA), and also first prize in the Cement and Concrete Association of Australia (CCAA) 2009 Public Domain for Streetscape.

Street trees used were a combination of Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’, Lagerstroemia indica ‘Tuscarora’ and Fraxinus pennsylvatica ‘Urbanite’, and were planted using the Citygreen structural soil cells system. This was the first structural soil cell project installation for the Council, with Citygreen on-hand to assist contractors, ensuring installation and planting were done correctly.


Each tree pit was linked by a linear trench backfilled with media suitable for optimum tree growth, allowing sub-soil drainage and passive irrigation. The Council also invested in tree grates and guards to enhance the prestige of the tree planting, selecting the heelsafe Duraplate in Paseo design for top plate, and a custom vase-shaped tree guard in ‘Bronze’ finish to protect the tree trunks and increase tree presence.

Emily Forrest, Landscape Architect in the Sustainable Development Unit at Bankstown City Council, said, “The combination of both these details has resulted in healthy trees that have performed well, are in optimal condition, and provide high amenity value as urban tree assets. As a result, Council has since leveraged the Citygreen Stratacell product in multiple streetscape projects.”

One such example is the advanced street tree planting works in nearby South Terrace / Chapel Road South, known locally as Saigon Place. Twelve 200 litre advanced Sapium Sebiferum were planted within the widened footway, and – like the Bankstown project – were linked by a trench allowing optimal lateral root growth, sub-soil draining, and passive irrigation. Planted in 2010, these Chinese Tallows are now strong, healthy, and show excellent growth vigour and form.


Council has again specified Citygreen Stratacells in the Fetherstone Street project, which is currently under construction. Unlike Bankstown and Saigon Place, the cells are located within a trafficable parking lane rather than a pedestrian footway. Stratacell is up to the job though, being the strongest module of its kind globally by a significant margin. Fetherstone Street will only have four advanced Ulmus parvifolia ‘Todd’ as feature specimens, so Council has specified Stratacell knowing that it will enable these trees to quickly establish and reach the desired raised canopy.

Emily Forrest concluded by describing the original Bankstown project as, “…a leap of faith which has definitely worked out for us. All of the trees planted using the Stratacell system are looking fantastic.”

Trees Outperform in Mill Woods Parking Lot

Mill Woods - June, 2015

Trees Outperform in Mill Woods Parking Lot

Mill Woods is a purpose-designed community in Edmonton Canada, which showcases successful urban growth achieved via sound principles of social, economic, and physical planning. In 2012, the City of Edmonton partnered with international architecture firm Stantec and Heritage Nurseries of Alberta to create a new parking lot with feature trees for shade and aesthetic appeal.

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Mill Woods – June, 2012

With an important recreational lake adjacent, the goal was to utilize tree pits that would not only ensure the healthy growth of trees, but also provide a filtered retention area for stormwater which would then be channeled into the nearby lake.

Citygreen consultant Kirsty McIntyre said Citygreen’s Stratacell modules were identified as the ideal solution, “…due to their high load bearing qualities ideal for the parking lot asphalt and large void areas. This application increased the soil volume for the trees and allowed for stormwater retention. Separately, the fact that the modules are made from 100% recycled polymers, a clear environmental advantage, also appealed.”


Mill Woods – August, 2013

Not all trees in the parking lot were planted using the Stratacell system, so three years down the track, the benefits experienced by the trees are clear to see. “The results of this project have been excellent. I’ve been monitoring these trees for the past three years and the trees are healthy and establishing well,” says McIntyre.

“There is a noticeable difference in fullness and height comparatively to the trees planted in a soft landscaped area. The soft landscape trees have branches growing in more erratic patterns, and overall do not have a full appearance, probably due to poor drainage and oxygenation as a result of compacted soil. On the other hand, the trees planted using the Stratacell system feature lush, full foliage, and an encouraging uniformity in the branches filling out.”


Mill Woods – June, 2015

McIntyre concluded by saying, “This is a clear example of Citygreen working to provide a long-term solution, rather than a short-term fix. The trees speak for themselves, with the nearby lake also benefiting from filtered stormwater.”

Pedestrians Saved by Trees in Gawler


Pedestrians Saved by Trees in Gawler
By Kristyn M. Levis


Various towns are recognising the benefits of shared spaces as well as increasing their urban canopy. The local government in Gawler, South Australia is among those implementing new efforts to improve their cities.

The Murray Street Project Stage 4 included the widening of the footpath on the western side of Murray Street (between Bridge Street and Walker Place). The Town of Gawler 10 Year Infrastructure Asset Work Plan includes the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of roads, bridges, kerbs, gutters, footpaths, street assets, street lighting, stormwater, buildings and open spaces.

According to the council’s Traffic and Transport Management Plan, the “traffic calming devices implemented along Murray Street as part of its upgrades program has reduced the 85th percentile speed of vehicles (below 40km/h on Murray Street)”. The council has implemented mid-block pedestrian refuges and associated kerbside extensions with pram ramps.

“While these crossings do not legally require vehicles to give way to pedestrians, they promote lower vehicle speeds by narrowing the roadway, thereby improving pedestrian safety and connectivity,” the plan said.

They are considering the future implementation of a 40km/h speed limit along Murray Street to provide “a formalised low speed environment 24/7 and promote the town centre as a pedestrian friendly area”.

Murray St Stage 4 Tree Planting 002

Gary Kerr, Depot Coordinator for the Town of Gawler in South Australia, managed the tree planting in the area for the stage four project in June 2013. He also completed the same tree-planting project in stage one of the Murray Street footpath upgrade in September 2008.

The project included the planting of two trees at each pedestrian crossing in Murray Street. There were two crossings in stage one and two crossings in stage four. The tree planting project budget for materials only was around $10,000.

“The crossings are in the centre of the roadway and the material we had to plant the trees into was highly compacted due to an old railway line that used to go through the main street years ago,” Kerr said.

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In 2008, Kerr and his team approached Arborgreen for their assistance to see what’s in the market to suit the project’s needs. The Citygreen Stratacell system was recommended as there was no other system that suited the circumstances quite well.

“With the strength of the pods being able to place in the roadway and allowing the air space for the tree roots, it suited this situation with the compacted base material,” he said.

The team used a similar system from Arborgreen in stage one of the project “with good results and outcomes”. Aside from the Stratacells, the project also used root barrier, geotextile, tree grates, primary and secondary root ball irrigation system, steel tree guards and hydro-cell soil.

Murray St Stage 4 Tree Planting 018

“The soil volume was the main issue along with compaction and also where they are positioned in the road corridor. The Stratacell system catered for all our requirements especially soil volume. The design was exactly what we needed,” Kerr said.

There were no serious issues encountered during the project. The only issue was in terms of traffic management as the trees were planted in the middle of the roadway.

“Everything went smoothly. We had to do the construction work overnight because of the large volume of traffic that use Murray Street. Rod Gooden from Arborgreen was onsite with both projects and was very helpful in assisting me with the installation,” he said.

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They found the Citygreen Stratacell system to be very easy to install. “The key is to have good plant operators that can dig to correct depths and levels,” Kerr said.

They didn’t include rainwater harvesting in the design because of the project’s position on the roadway. They had a ring feed watering system, which the staff hand-watered when needed. This was the only option they had to water the trees on the site.

With their experience using the system on the Murray Street project, Kerr said there is no reason why they wouldn’t use the same system in future projects. Today, the trees are looking great from both projects in 2008 and 2013.

Citygreen teams with Lend Lease, PWP, and JPW to deliver modular Stratavault system at Barangaroo

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© artist’s impression of central barangaroo, virtual ideas pty ltd, april 2014. subject to planning approval_thumb_800

Citygreen teams with Lend Lease, PWP, and JPW to deliver modular Stratavault system at Barangaroo
Release: 29 April 2015

Barangaroo was a vacant 22 hectare former container wharf on the western harbour foreshore of the Sydney CBD. A $6 billion transformation of Barangaroo is well underway and will transform Sydney’s position as a financial services hub in the Asia Pacific by generating jobs, boosting the economy, and providing a new place to live, work, and visit. Barangaroo will feature 75,000 trees, plants, and shrubs, planted using Citygreen’s modular Stratavault system.

Opening in July, Barangaroo Point is a sprawling six-hectare harbour foreshore park allowing visitors to soak up the action on Sydney Harbour while revelling in lush naturalistic parkland. Providing space for recreation, expression, celebration, and community, it features bush walks, grassed areas, lookouts, walking and cycle paths, a cultural centre, and an underground 300-space car park.


An international tender process was held for the park’s design in 2009/2010 with Johnson Pilton Walker in association with Peter Walker and Partners Landscape Architecture, landing the contract. The team’s winning design juxtaposed a rugged sandstone topography inspired by the naturalistic pre-1836 shoreline of the historic Port Jackson area, against a flourishing and modern CBD. A disused shipping container yard is now one of Sydney’s most stunning green headlands, visually linking the headland archipelagos of Balls Head, Goat Island, and Ballast Point.

Incorporating native Sydney plants such as large Angophoras, Banksias, and Port Jackson and Moreton Bay fig trees, the vegetation element follows very strictly on the vocabulary of the natural bush when the Aboriginal Gadigal people were living there.


Today, trees in cities are a very desirable, hugely beneficial part of our lives. But providing enough uncompacted, quality soil beneath pavements for trees in urban areas is a challenge. Citygreen was engaged to solve this problem by implementing its modular Stratavault system. The system employs advanced design geometry and reinforced copolymers to produce an incredibly robust, skeletal matrix; providing adequate support for pavement loads. Barangaroo Central will consist of 7492 Stratavault units (approximately 2000m2), allowing trees to thrive naturally for the enjoyment of park users. A tree-lined promenade, also planted using the Stratavault system, will be a prominent feature linking Barangaroo Point to Barangaroo South.


Peter Walker, Landscape Architect and Lead Designer, said, “One of the elements of the harbour headlands is that in their natural form they were examples of the bush. They still play a strong part of this symbolic meaning of the Sydney Cove area so we were determined to recreate that rich, complicated and more interesting plant composition for the forum of the headland, while adding a dimension of naturalness to the overall park.”

For more information on Citygreen’s Stratavault system, download the technical brochure.

For an interactive tour of Barangaroo, visit www.barangaroo.com.