Storm channel construction prompts resident to raise wildlife concerns

A portion of the south storm channel is being dredged and cleared of debris. (Kaylyn Whibbs/CTV News)

Construction work on a city storm channel is prompting a local resident to express concern for the wildlife that call the area home.

Dredging and clearing of debris is being carried out by the city in the south storm channel, which runs from Rae Street to Hill Avenue in the Queen Street area.

Diana Ghikas, a resident of 15 years, is concerned for the wildlife as the construction has caused many critters to flee.

Typically, in the springtime Ghikas said she can hear breeding frogs, see nesting waterfowl and her neighbour’s daughter love to see the resident muskrats.

“It’s definitely a wetland habitat. It was full of cattails, which is totally indicative of a wetland habitat,” said Ghikas.

She said she doesn’t believe the city considered the wildlife in their planning and didn’t protect them, adding the work is “not appropriate” as it has forced the waterfowl to leave the area.

Ghikas cited the Saskatchewan Waterlife Act, which states no person shall “willfully destroy or disturb any wildlife, or the eggs or nests of any birds” protected by the Migratory Birds Convention Act.

The city and the Water Security Agency said the act, and the need for a permit, do not apply as the channel is man-made and meant to be dry bottomed. Waterways like Pilot Butte Creek or Chuka Creek would require a permit.

“We always make sure that the Water Security Agency, who is our permit regulator, they are notified that we are doing this work. It’s a courtesy to notify them,” said Helene Henning-Hill, manager of sewer and drainage operations for the City of Regina.

Henning-Hill said the city is concerned about the wildlife, but ensuring the storm water gets to the proper storm channel or creek is a top priority and they do not control the wildlife that chooses to live in the channel after it naturally fills with rainwater.

“We do our best to protect where we can, but in some areas like this storm channel it’s unfortunate but it was meant to be a dry bottomed channel,” said Henning-Hill.

Ghikas said she understands why the work is being done, but thinks it should have been delayed until the fall to be less intrusive for the nesting birds and people using the surrounding park.

Each year the city decides which location needs work to improve functionality, and work is done in the spring to line up with construction season.

“We want full functionality from spring on for all the storms that are going to be coming through in the spring and the summer,” explained Henning-Hill, adding the equipment is more available during construction season.

After dredging an area, the city said it will go back and try to re-establish any grasslands surrounding area.

Moving forward, Ghikas would like to see changes when it comes to how the city handles wetland areas.

“…I think the city needs to re-assess their environmental standards,” said Ghikas.

She is expecting to the frog population be impacted by the work, but is optimistic about the waterfowls returning to the area.