The Goals of the SOS
The Role of the SOS
A Vision and Plan for the Seine River
THE GOALS OF SOS
Preserve, protect and enhance the natural environment & heritage resource of the Seine River
Restore & repair features of the environment that have been degraded
Improve water level, flow & quality
Raise the public's awareness of all aspects of the Seine River
Improve the environmental behavior of private industry, governments and the general public.
Improve appropriate public access along the Seine River (by low-impact nature trail & by canoe)
THE ROLE OF SOS
To monitor the Seine River environment
To act as a critic/advocate
To be an instigator of projects (initiate projects to be carried out by others)
To be a proponent of projects (initiate projects to be carried out by SOS)
To act as an 'expert resource'
To carry out and promote ongoing public education
A VISION AND PLAN FOR THE SEINE RIVER
The plan is composed of a number of components. An outline of the components is as follows:
Establishment of a protected natural corridor
Restoration of the river
Restoration of the riparian environment
Establishment of a seine river development authority
Completion of an urban nature trail and canoe route, the length of the seine
Establishment of a public education component
INDEPTH: THE GOALS OF SOS
The goals of SOS are the following:
1. Preserve, protect and enhance the natural environment & heritage resource of the Seine River
This is the over-riding goal of the Save Our Seine, River Environment Inc. (SOS). All other goals are intended to support and reinforce this intent. The Seine River is an inherited treasure, a corridor of the natural environment that extends through the prairie farmlands and into the heart of the city. The environment also has a rich historic past that was associated with many of the events and people that shaped the development of Western Canada (J-B. Lagimodière, Marie-Anne Gaboury, Lord Selkirk, the Des Meurons regiment, Louis Riel, the landing of the Countess of Dufferin etc.). It is, however, a natural resource that has been damaged and is in grave danger of being destroyed by numerous forces. A number of individuals recognized this, and established SOS to help to achieve the goal of preserving, protecting and enhancing the Seine River environment, for today and for future generations.
2. Restore & repair features of the environment that have been degraded
Much damage has been done to the Seine River and its riparian environment, by dumping, pollution, inappropriate development and bank stabilization as well as construction activities. One of the key goals of SOS is to bring about the reversal of this damage and restore the river to a more pristine state.
3. Improve water level, flow & quality
The health of the river itself is at the heart of our concerns. At present the health of the river is not as robust as it was in its original state. There is the ever-present danger that it could deteriorate even further. One of the key goals of SOS is therefore to constantly strive to ensure the improvement of the river's water level, flow & quality to a condition as close as possible to its original natural state.
4. Raise the public's awareness of all aspects of the Seine River
The Seine River is one of the natural treasures of southern Manitoba and the city of Winnipeg. However, the majority of the public is largely unaware of it. One of the goals of SOS is to educate the public about all aspects of the Seine River and its surrounding natural environment and history.
5. Improve the environmental behavior of private industry, governments and the general public.
One of the reasons for public education about the river is to make everyone aware that their actions can protect the natural environment or play a part in destroying it. Some actions are willful destruction (garbage dumping, vandalism, etc.). However, much of the pollution, and degradation of the environment is carried out unintentionally as a result of well-meaning activities. (watering the golf courses, land drainage, flood prevention, bank stabilization, urban development, etc.) These activities could eventually destroy the Seine River unless there is an understanding of the effects on the river and a willingness to act on that understanding. One of the goals of SOS is therefore to improve the environmental behavior of all segments of society; private industry, governments and the general public.
6. Improve appropriate public access along the Seine River (by low-impact nature trail & by canoe)
One of the best ways to educate the public about the Seine River is to allow them to experience it for themselves. Much of it is hidden from view and accessible only to adjacent land owners. In some locations it is a blessing in disguise that the river is hidden through much of its course through the city. This has had the effect of protecting parts of it from the ravages of urbanization. However, SOS believes that everyone has a right to enjoy this resource in appropriate ways that are non-destructive to the environment. Trips down the river by canoe or low-impact nature trails are appropriate access venues. This should be a right of all citizens regardless of ability. Therefore, handicap access is part of this goal, where feasible. While land ownership is a right and a privilege, adjacent land-owners should not prevent others from enjoying the river by low-impact nature trail on public property or by canoe on the river itself. One of the goals of SOS is therefore to achieve appropriate access to the Seine River by all members of the public.
INDEPTH: THE ROLE OF SOS
SOS is a community based, non-profit organization that exists to help to preserve, protect and enhance the natural Seine River Environment.
We will work with government, industry and private individuals to help achieve these ends, but we believe that the primary responsibility for preserving protecting and enhancing the Seine River must belong to the government (all three levels) on behalf of the people of Manitoba.
As part of this overall role, SOS has numerous specific roles including the following:
1. To monitor the Seine River environment
Based on our ongoing work with the Seine River and its adjacent environment, we are in a position to observe the environment and changes that may occur within it. We observe water levels, water flow and quality, as well as noting events and proposals that may affect the overall environment along the Seine River. (We have also assisted the Province in their more detailed scientific study of water quality). Although our focus is within the City of Winnipeg, we also monitor events and proposals outside the City that could have an impact on the River environment.
2. To act as critic/advocate
Based on the information gained from ongoing monitoring, we see it as our duty to critically assess the impact of any events or proposals that may affect the river and its adjacent environment. We would then provide our opinion and input to support those proposals that are beneficial to the natural environment of the Seine. We would also act as a resource to assist in modifying those proposals deemed inappropriate or harmful to the Seine River environment.
3. To be an instigator of projects - (initiate projects to be carried out by others)
As an extension of our role as critic/advocate, SOS will, as the need arises, alert governments and/or the public concerning actions that should be taken to preserve, protect and enhance the natural Seine River Environment.
e.g. SOS alerted the Provincial government concerning the seriousness of the damage to the Seine River siphon under the floodway. This helped to instigate the project to repair the siphon.
4. To be a proponent of projects - (initiate projects to be carried out by SOS)
In some cases where it is appropriate, the role of SOS is to carry out its own projects to further our goals
e.g. the Riffles project, the Provencher-Marion Trail project, the Annual Greenings Annual Cleanings, The Interpretive Canoe Guide & other projects, etc.
5. To act as an 'expert resource'
Based on our ten years of work, SOS has amassed a body of knowledge and experience concerning the Seine River that is unequaled in the Province. Part of our role therefore, is to share that knowledge and experience with others as required.
e.g. SOS was an advisory group with the City's Seine River Task.
6. To carry out and promote ongoing public education
The Seine River is a resource that belongs to all Manitobans. To differing degrees we are all stewards of the Seine. Therefore we see it as our role to make the public aware of the Seine River, its value, its history, its fragility and the responsibility of all of us to take care of this precious resource.
INDEPTH: A VISION AND PLAN FOR THE SEINE RIVER
To achieve our stated goals, SOS has developed an overall vision and plan for the Seine River Corridor. It is not a plan for major developments or alterations to the Corridor. Rather it is a plan to preserve and protect the natural environment, restore the environment where it has been degraded and assist the public in experiencing the Seine River in as pristine a state as possible. This plan is composed of the following parts:
1. Establishment of a natural corridor
The plan envisions the establishment of a natural corridor, protected by legislation, from the mouth of the Seine through the City and to the headwaters of the Seine. While the need may always exist for community based volunteer activists, the intent is to have governments assume the on-going stewardship of this public resource.
2. Restoration of the river
The primary focus of the plan is to restore the river itself as close as possible to its natural state. The plan is to assist in restoring water levels by regaining the original watershed as much as possible. At present portions of the river can dry up completely (We also recognize the need for flood protection and realize that this will change the natural water levels during times of flood).
The plan envisions water quality being continually improved to allow flora and fauna to flourish in their natural state. SOS supports the efforts of a provincial water quality monitoring agency dedicated to achieving the best water quality levels possible.
Water flow is essential to the health of any river. The plan envisions an increased water flow to clear pollutants, provide oxygen and allow a seasonal spring freshet to rejuvenate the river's health as it has done from time immemorial. Diversions along the Seine should be examined with a view to increasing water flow.
3. Restoration of the riparian environment
In addition to the river itself the riparian environment is essential to the health of the Seine River ecosystem. The plan is to protect the environment where it has not been damaged and repair those areas that have been damaged. In addition the plan is to prevent further damage through public education, enforcement of legislation etc. The plan is to have all man-made debris removed from the corridor through community based and government assisted cleanup efforts, and to restore flora and fauna that have been negatively affected by the impact of development.
4. Establishment of a Seine River Development Authority
The previously noted components of the plan would mean little if inappropriate urban and rural development encroached on the corridor to the extent that it harmed the environment. In the event of a spring flood, irreparable damage would be done to the environment all along the course of the river. Industrial, commercial and residential developments in the city have a similar capacity to do damage if not controlled. The plan is to see an organization with authority to review developments adjacent to the Seine and recommend changes as required to protect the river environment.
An essential component of this part of the plan is a comprehensive set of planning and design guidelines for proposed developments along the Seine River corridor. These guidelines can be used by developers in planning their projects so that the projects are sympathetic to the Seine River environment. The guidelines can also be used by SOS and/or the Seine River Development Authority when they are reviewing proposed projects.
5. Completion of an urban nature trail and canoe route the length of the seine
The Seine River trail and canoe route is a method that allows access to the Seine River so that it can be enjoyed by all. A complete trail system is envisioned from the mouth of the Red River to the floodway. Sections from Provencher Blvd. to Marion Street have already been completed and demonstrate the value of the concept. The trail is now being used by nature-lovers, joggers, cyclists and those just out for a stroll. It is already thought by many as the most beautiful trail in the city of Winnipeg. It is planned as a low impact trail that disturbs the environment as little as possible. It has a gravel surface that allows for the natural movement of the riverbanks.
We do not envision asphalt as a material. Asphalt carries with it the inherent requirement to stabilize the banks or locate the path away from the river to keep the asphalt from cracking. Any trail design should recognize the natural meandering of the prairie riverbed and the associated movement of the riverbank slopes. While the movements are slow, some maintenance will be required. This maintenance is expected to be minimal due to the flexible nature of the trail construction.
The river is already a canoe route of unparalleled beauty within the city. The only thing needed to complete it is the removal of all debris, and the encouragement of higher water levels as previously discussed.
6. Establishment of a public education component
The public education component of the plan utilizes a variety of educational tools. The use of interpretive centres could be an appropriate method of concentrating interpretive materials and displays in strategic locations on the site. Interpretive displays, (plaques, signage etc.) could also be located along the river at key locations. Some of these displays would be at clearings that could be used as open air classroom spaces for on-site student instruction.
Printed materials on water quality, flora and fauna, history etc. could be available for distribution at schools and for the general public at tourism information centres in the form of a self-guiding interpretive trail brochure. The brochure will be made available inside the Robin's Donuts on Provencher.
An Illustrated Canoe Guide to Winnipeg's Seine River is also part of the plan, to be used as an informative map for those exploring the river by canoe. We are particularly fortunate to have one National treasure, artist Réal Bérard, discover another - Winnipeg's Seine River.
Other public education vehicles will be developed as the need arises.
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