Michele Kading is hoping community members will play a part in helping preserve a Winnipeg gem.
Kading, the executive director of Save Our Seine, was speaking to The Lance in light of the organization’s recent annual general meeting and is hoping interested individuals will take the time to learn more about the achievements of the grassroots group and discover more about its past, present and future projects and initiatives.
Formed in 1990, the mandate of the community-based stewardship group is to protect, preserve and enhance the Seine River environment within the city. Its initiatives include advocacy and protection; habitat restoration and enhancement; research and monitoring; awareness and communication and education and community outreach, Kading said.
"It’s good to get information flowing out to people about Save Our Seine," said Kading, a West Kildonan resident who has been an environmental educator for more than 30 years.
"It will be fantastic to welcome people who are knowledgeable about the river that can bring their own interests on board. Community members can help us chart a course for the future."
Kading stressed now is a critical time for Winnipeg’s third largest urban river, as "development pressure is intense."
"Development is a fact of life and several new developments along the river are in the works and each project has the potential to impact the river, in terms of flow and water quality, its shoreline habitat and its possible use as a public greenway. Save Our Seine needs your support to ensure present and future human activities along the river will enhance, rather than damage, the greenway," Kading said.
The organization is involved with numerous community projects and Kading works closely with students in the Louis Riel School Division, who take water samples, collect invertebrates and do a selection of water quality tests as part of the Adopt-a-River program. Every summer, the Save Our Seine Green Team also works hard to clean up the river, which can become a garbage dump for both man and nature.
"The role of Save Our Seine is partly that of a watchdog and we try to make sure the river is healthy and accessible. Historically, some people have treated rivers as above-ground sewers and they can become dumping grounds for debris. Unfortunately, this hasn’t changed a great deal over time."
Kading said working with teachers and students is a rewarding part of her role, not least because some children are not always exposed to nature: "Lots of kids grow up in an urban area, so getting them to the river to learn is very important."
Earlier this year, Coun. Brian Mayes (St. Vital) gave Save Our Seine $28,000 from his ward budget, which helped create Kading’s position.
"This budget was increased by $40,000. I did not favour this and gave the bulk of my increase to SOS. I’m working on getting more stable funding for the organization in next year’s city budget," Mayes said.
To learn more about the organization, visit saveourseine.com