Our Favourite Project

Conserve a wetland or develop a new residential community? We did both in Bridlewood Creek in Calgary!

In 1997, developers were avoiding a 40+ acre parcel of land in Calgary’s southwest. The reason? A 12 acre slough, filled with reeds and cattails, partially surrounded with trees and brush, and teeming with wildlife.

Lamont decided to take a different look at it, seeing the Wetland as a valuable and desirable feature.

The first question was – how to preserve it? Obviously a Wetland needs water, so where would it come from? The solution – storm drains. Rather than having the stormwater runoff going straight to the Bow River (which is no longer permitted), stormwater is diverted to the Wetland.

This deceptively simple solution required great teamwork and cooperation between the City Parks Department and the Sewers Department, as both wanted to control the Wetland. The Parks Department wanted the Wetland as a natural area, and the Sewers Department wanted it as a stormwater retention facility.

After that, Bridlewood Creek’s Wetland just seemed to take on a life of its own. We knew there was a great abundance of waterfowl and other birds in the Wetlands plus an interesting variety of plants and wildflowers, shrubs and trees that give this Wetland its natural beauty

Of course, all this wildlife requires a good food supply, so a healthy Wetland needs a steady supply of vegetation and insects in the food chain. All spring and summer we could hear the chorus of frogs, and watch the dragonflies zipping around. Nightfall sees the emergence of bats – one of nature’s most effective insect-eaters. In fact, around the Wetland, we noticed significantly fewer mosquitoes than we did in our own backyard in “civilized” areas, where they have few natural predators.

Wetlands provide valuable habitat for many animals, plants, insects and amphibians. They prevent soil erosion by slowing stormwater runoff, collecting/filtering sediments and pollutants, and thus greatly improving downstream water quality.At the same time, they replenish the groundwater table, retaining vital subsurface moisture. And of course, Wetlands are ideal places to watch wildlife, take photographs and just relax and enjoy nature.

One very important question remained – how can we keep the Wetland healthy? With houses backing onto at least half of the Wetland, we educated the homeowners to take an active and crucial role in sustaining and guarding the vitality of “their” Bridlewood Creek Wetland, counting on them to be especially careful to control pollution, litter and water run-off. There are no gates or openings in their back fences so nesting and feeding sites are as undisturbed as possible. Nor are the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers permitted, so they don’t leach out of lawns or gardens and into the Wetlands. If these chemicals can kill the plants and insects in your backyard, you can imagine the harm they will do to the Wetland. It’s a simple lesson – kill the plants or insects in the Wetland and you will destroy it.

Finally, Lamont was fortunate to find four home builders that wanted to be involved in this project. They took an active role in educating themselves and their sales representatives so that prospective purchasers understood the special nature of a Wetland, and their ultimate role as voluntary custodians and stewards of this beautifully natural area.