Many of you have probably experienced a bird striking your window at some point in your lives. Downtown, birds face a much bigger threat as during the day they are unable to discern that clear or reflective glass is solid and at night they effectively become trapped by walls of light. This risk also becomes much higher during bird migration periods. Mirrored glass is particularly dangerous for birds and illuminated buildings at night can also unintentionally attract night-migrating birds.
Canada is home to over 600 species of birds and these populations are considered to be increasingly threatened. Approximately 25 million birds are killed in Canada every year due to collisions with glass. Building design plays a key role in many, if not most of these deaths. Many major cities across Canada are already taking steps to reduce the risks by adopting the national Bird Friendly Building Design Standard established by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group).
The Guideline provides a collection of urban design- based strategies for the creation of bird-friendly developments, buildings, and structures. It also offers suggestions for bird-friendly building operations which align with accepted sustainable design objectives.
This Standard covers bird-friendly building design in both new construction and existing buildings and is intended to reduce bird collisions with buildings. It recommends that mitigation strategies be implemented to a height of 16m or to the height of the adjacent mature tree canopy (whichever is greater).
Some of these strategies include adding visual markers to glazing materials, providing ‘visual noise’ for birds such as mesh screens and shades, turning off lights in municipal buildings during peak migration periods and encouraging other building owners to do the same.
I am pleased to let you know that my colleagues at City Hall agree that this bird friendly standard is necessary, and the Bird-Friendly Standard motion was passed at our last council meeting.
The Public Service has recommended that the City of Winnipeg immediately implement this standard. and will begin the process of making Winnipeg more bird-friendly, and residents will have increased access to information to help protect bird populations. Going forward, the Public Service will integrate the discussion of further bird-friendly standards into our upcoming zoning by-law update consultations.