February 11, 2010
By Rob Brown – Canstar Sou’Wester
Save Our Seine will mark it’s 20th anniversary this year with a series of events that organizers hope allow the community stewardship group to reconnect with volunteers and supporters. SOS president Dave Watson said he is hopeful that the anniversary celebrations will renew enthusiasm for the group and its efforts along the river. “We thought let’s take advantage of our anniversary as well as the Manitoba Homecoming and reconnect with many of our volunteers and supporters,” he said. “We have a lot of history and work to celebrate.”
The Seine River, which begins in the Sandilands Provincial Forest southeast of Steinbach and ends south at the Red River, had been used as a dumping ground for years prior to the group’s formation in 1990. It was a collection of neighbours along Egerton Road that took the first steps to establish the group that would eventually become known as Save Our Seine. “They lived on the river and would watch the water disappear and it wouldn’t look like a river anymore, just a lot of algae and scum,” Watson said. “Some of the residents would remember back to when it did look like a river and wanted to reclaim that.”
Initial clean-up efforts involved people in canoes scooping up floating garbage from the river while individuals along the shore hauled out everything from logs to shopping carts. Watson said the series of anniversary events will be highlighted by a walking tour through Gabrielle Roy Park in May. In addition, a new $250,000 pathway in Royalwood that runs from the Royalwood Bridge to the Perimeter Highway will be officially unveiled June 5 to coincide with International Trails Day.
The organization plans to continue its field work in between the anniversary events. Members are looking forward to conducting a series of water quality tests this coming summer, Watson said. “Simple stuff really, how much water is there, what is the quality and how do we make it better,” he said, adding the group is also looking at establishing spawning beds and fish habitats.
The SOS Urban Green Team was established in 1994 and was the first of its kind in the province. The team is comprised of high school students with university students serving as leaders. “It helps us create young environmentalists,” Watson said of the Green Team initiative. “SOS is very proud of this as youth have gained valuable certifications and training. We’ve always made sure kids are safe on the river and professionally trained.”
The group’s anniversary celebrations will culminate in October with a dinner reception that will take place at the Seine River Residence on Warde Avenue.