Winnipeg considers adopting more 'bird-friendly' design guidelines

The city can be a dangerous place for birds – that is what a new report to the City of Winnipeg says, recommending changes to make Winnipeg a bit more 'bird-friendly.'

A new report to the city outlines recommendations to adopt 'bird-friendly urban design guidelines' to keep birds safe as they fly through Winnipeg.

The City of Winnipeg is sitting in what is called the Mississippi Flyway – a migration path from the boreal forest, Prairie Provinces and the arctic. The city is proving to be a deadly obstacle for the birds.

"According to stats, about 25 million birds can die annually from running into the different buildings," said Coun. Cindy Gilroy, chair of the Property and Planning, Heritage and Downtown Committee.

"We want to make sure that when birds are migrating that they are as safe as they can be."

The report said windows pose a significant risk to birds during the spring when they are stressed, deprived of food and sleep, and are unfamiliar with the local landscape.

The report recommends the city adopt the national Bird-Friendly Building Design Standard from the Canadian Standards Association.

The report said design elements can cut back on the number of collisions, especially in the first 16 to 25 metres above grade. The elements include bird-glazing, a visual marker or shading on windows.

Along with this, the report recommends creating a 'lights out' policy to turn off lights in municipal buildings during peak migration seasons, and encourage other building owners to as well. The city said buildings lit up in the evening can act as a beacon for birds migrating at night.

The report also suggests the city should consult with the development and design industries, along with academics and other stakeholders, for a review of Downtown and Winnipeg zoning by-laws to incorporate bird-friendly design standards.

"Anytime that humans are impacting negatively our natural environments of our bird species or even other animals, I think it's up to us to look at how we can mitigate some of those risks," Gilroy said.

The recommendations will be submitted to the committee next week. 

-with files from CTV's Daniel Halmarson