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This article was published 7/2/2016 (1383 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There’s a place of peace behind the Shaughnessy Park home of Olga and Don Mokriy and it may be about to bear their family’s name.
It is an ecological reserve the couple helped establish in 2008, and a place where numerous species of birds, rabbits, owls and even a fox live in the heart of the city.
Known as the Shaughnessy Ecological Reserve, it’s a treed lot tucked amid rows of new bungalows on Aberdeen Avenue. The small lot measures less than half of an acre but it exists in its natural state, save for about a half dozen bird houses and food human hands have scattered, as the habitat for a wide variety of animals and plants.
Last month, the councillors on the Lord Selkirk-West Kildonan community committee approved a motion renaming the Shaughnessy Ecological Reserve to Mokriy Ecological Reserve. On Monday, council’s protection, community services and parks committee will consider the matter.
"It will be such a wonderful legacy to have it named Mokriy Ecological Reserve in our honour. It makes me feel very rewarded and overwhelmed," said Olga Mokriy, 47.
"I’m so very grateful and honoured that we were able to ensure a home for the wildlife and also the trees. They filter the air and we need more areas like this."
Their property, which backs onto the ecological reserve, has been in the family for 50 years.
It was designated an ecological reserve in 2008, thanks in large part to the work of the Mokriy family with the support of city councillor Mike Pagtakhan (Point Douglas).
At the time, the treed lot was declared protected from any future zoning changes or redevelopment. Not long after, the rows of bungalows sprouted up along Aberdeen. If the reserve hadn’t been protected, it would have been swallowed up by buildings.
For decades, the family has fed the birds, piled broken tree branches that small wildlife use as shelter and kept the parcel of city-owned land clean and free of pollutants.
The area has become famous among birders after a member of the Manitoba Birders Society spotted a rare Eurasian tree sparrow, most of which are found in Missouri.
Gary Budyk of Winnipeg spotted one Dec. 14, 2014, during the Winnipeg Christmas Bird Count. It was only the second confirmed spotting of the Eurasian tree sparrow in Manitoba and has since been viewed by numerous Manitoba birders. Also spotted in the reserve have been snowy owls, hairy and downy woodpeckers, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, orioles, kinglets, warblers, hawks, prairie chickens, rabbits and other wildlife.
Every so often, Olga and Don will glance out a back window and see a little reddish-brown fox sitting on their deck or scampering through the trees.
"A fox, in the middle of the city, it’s truly amazing," Olga said. "We truly enjoy this area all year around but especially in the summer, we enjoy the chorus of the birds singing and the other animals enjoying their home.
"It’s heartwarming to know that this is also going to be a true legacy to our family and for the animals that reside here."
Olga said Pagtakhan, who could not be reached for comment, oversaw the late fall planting of a spruce tree that can be seen from Aberdeen Avenue.
"He’s going to be doing a lot more work. He’s really done a lot to assist me and I’m so grateful to him and to the City of Winnipeg," Olga said.
She said the reserve is enjoyed by residents of the nearby Fred Douglas Lodge, students from the neighbourhood’s schools such as Sisler High School and passersby who will often stop to chat about the wonders of nature before their eyes.
If the name change is approved at Monday’s meeting, the sign currently on the property proclaiming it a City of Winnipeg "Forest Naturalization Area" will soon be joined by one bearing the Mokriy Ecological Reserve name.
Ashley works the general assignment beat.