Hope for heron habitat

John K. White

Rita Bos knows development keeps a city vital.

The senior director for the Vernon Heronry Protection Society has seen it happening over the last 30 years. Builders chipped away at the land surrounding the blue heron habitat on her property off of 20th Street and 48th Avenue at the northern edge of the city.

Her brow furrows when she is asked if she worries about the future of the birds. A recent rezoning was approved on the southeastern edge of the area to allow for an apartment building to be constructed.

Still, Bos is hopeful that thoughtful builders can create something that will complement the neighbourhood and the habitat. The key word is "thoughtful."

"When construction commences, regardless of plans, timing is critical. Impact on the great blue heron must be minimized," Bos said. "Federal and provincial restrictions, set out to protect this blue-listed species, must be strictly adhered to. These part-time next-door neighbours will bring pleasure for longer if consideration is shown. These birds are very entertaining. To live so near to them is considered good fortune."

Bos said the window of opportunity for construction to be carried out is between Jan. 15 and Sept. 15 when herons are nesting.

"Clever planning on the part of cities along with caring citizens can achieve positive end results," Bos said. "There are numerous cities with multiple dwelling structures built very close to noisy highways. In my travels, I have observed classy sound barriers which really do work."

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Bos suggests that everyone benefits when soundproofing is taken into consideration during the initial design stages.

"Residents of this residential housing complex will appreciate their privacy and peace of mind. In high-end, gated community play areas, courtyards, balconies and parking spaces can be seen by occupants only. The possibilities for an imaginative structure are endless," Bos said.

In the end, Bos remains hopeful that the new apartment building will serve those who need it most, and compliment the habitat and neighbourhood to make everyone — and the herons — happy.

"This courageous couple will provide housing for many newcomers which is much-needed. Every effort Scotland Constructors makes to safeguard Vernon Heronry Sanctuary will prove to reward them in their venture," Bos said.

"As my late husband, Jan said, 'Be kind to nature and nature will be kind.'"

The builders will next need to apply to the city for building permits with their designs for the plot of land.

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