This summer, Edmonton, Alberta’s Shaw Conference Center began officially welcoming a different kind of attendee: monarch butterflies. The five Green Key–certified facility partnered with Leaf2Wing to plant a Monarch Butterfly Preservation Garden to support the butterflies on their annual migration to Mexico. The garden also plays host to around 70,000 of the conference center’s bees, which provide 90lbs. of honey to the center’s culinary operations.
Lisanne Lewis, SCC general manager, calls the beehives a unique way for the center to align with the Edmonton’s sustainability program. Although the 150,000-square-foot venue is located in downtown Edmonton within walking distance of hotels and shopping, it is also adjacent to North America’s largest stretch of urban parkland along the North Saskatchewan River. An indoor waterfall and permaculture landscaping help bring the outside in for visitors, and successful sustainability management programs have enabled the SCC to donate around 3,400lbs. of food to the Edmonton Food Bank, and compost more than 200,000 lbs. of waste each year. To help meeting planners cut down waste and lower the environmental impact of meetings, the SCC publishes a Sustainable Meetings Toolkit. For anyone who would like to help preserve the monarch butterfly, Leaf2Wing will mail free milkweed seeds to plant your own garden.