The Save Nose Creek Society held its first annual strategy meeting on Nov. 26 at VIVO in northeast Calgary to discuss potential advocacy projects, to recruit new volunteers and to stress its legislative agenda to establish a new inter-municipal urban greenbelt along Nose Creek, linking Airdrie, Rocky View County and Calgary with a protected active recreation and wildlife corridor.
“The goal of our society is to save Nose Creek, but once we save Nose Creek we have got to preserve it,” said Andrew Yule, founder of Save Nose Creek in his comments to reporters before the meeting. “So we have kind of got to get ahead of that. The main areas of focus for us are the watershed, biodiversity, the historical and community greenspace. Those are the four pillars of our advocacy.”
Yule acknowledged that his small advocacy organization, which started out as just him wanting to do something about the state of Nose Creek despite not being a typical“eco-warrior,” had shown it was the little engine that could over the past year. However, said Yule, there is still a pressing need for more volunteers to help take the society’s advocacy and conservation efforts to the next level.
“We are trying to get as many volunteers as we can,” he said. “We bit off a huge chunk of this watershed– it’s west Nose Creek, it’s Nose Creek. There are people who are throwing projects at us left and right, but what we need is for people to step up and lead those projects.
“Ultimately, we need the community to step up and take some of the leads on so many different projects we are working on here.”
Yule said two projects of particular concern for Airdrie and Rocky View residents the organization is pushing hard on, and needs more boots on the ground, is the aforementioned urban greenbelt and in expressing its concerns about the new provincial-funded overpass slated to be built over Nose Creek in Balzac at the junction of the QEII and Highway 566.
“The more governments we get involved with bridge infrastructure the better off we can make the clearance for the different (wildlife),” he explained to members later in the meeting. “Because every government will go to the minimum standard unless they have another government involved to help with the costs to make it wider.”
“One of the projects being worked on is the overpass at Balzac,” Yule went on to state. “It’s a provincial project; so I would say anybody from Airdrie or Rocky View, definitely reach out to your municipal leaders. Because we need more pressure in that Rocky View area.
“What they are doing with the (Hwy. 566) overpass is they will be channelling the creek underneath. So very little clearance at all. It’s just a culvert.”
Yule said he had spoken to Alberta Transportation and Economic Corridors minister Devin Dreeshan about his concerns about the new overpass.
“It’s moving forward the way that it is right now,” Yule explained. “Talking with Devin Dreeshan, they are perhaps going to look into the active mode corridor, but they have no interest in doing a wildlife corridor. (He says) it’s too expensive and the project is already moving forward– you know, that song and dance. But if we had more local people pushing, we might be able to get a little more sway.”
Yule said he needed Rocky View and Airdrie volunteers to step up and take lead on these advocacy efforts so it is local residents talking to their local government representatives.
“There are a lot of people who say, ‘Hey, can you help us with this idea? Or this project at Hanson Ranch or out in Sage Hill?’ That’s great. But can you do that, and we will support you? We are just a ragtag group of a society, but we are growing in numbers. And as we grow, the more people that can lend a hand, the better the creek is going to be for it.”
Yule said he was also hoping to convince the province to declare its Crown land located strategically just north of Stoney Trail between Balzac and the City of Calgary a provincial park to serve as the “key stone” of a future inter-municipal park all along Nose Creek with perhaps a TransCanada Trail tie in, with the northernmost point bring in Airdrie.