Fort Ellice Vista. Photo by NCC.

Fort Ellice Vista. Photo by NCC.

Brandon Urban Ecological Preserve

A cluster of small white lady's-slipper (Photo by Melissa Grantham)

A cluster of small white lady's-slipper (Photo by Melissa Grantham)

In early October 2020, a number of landowners, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the City of Brandon signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). NCC has now come to a conditional agreement with owners Stoneridge Equities Inc. to purchase approximately 20 hectares (approximately 51 acres) in the city of Brandon. This site will establish the Brandon Urban Ecological Preserve. The preserve will safeguard a local small white lady's-slipper population and increase awareness of species at risk and grassland habitats.

"The purchase agreement between NCC and the landowner, Stoneridge Equities, is an important step in futher advancing our shared vision of an Urban Ecological Preserve in western Manitoba. The landowners are pleased to be part of this exciting initiative and truly value the collaborative, solutions-focused partnerships we have been able to develop with NCC, the City and others over the past number of years." - Shane Pospisil, Stoneridge representative

The preserve project has two elements: to establish a protected area of land to conserve the small white lady’s-slippers and the native prairie ecosystem that supports them, and resourcing to support long-term stewardship activities, which will be required to ensure the success of the preserve and the continued persistence of the orchid. 

In another show of a support for this initiative, the City of Brandon voted unanimously to donate approximately two hectares (approximately five acres) of adjacent land to NCC, to add to the preserve (site map). With the donation of land from the City of Brandon, and the potential securement of some small additional properties important to supporting the orchids, the preserve could include all the known orchid observations and a significant buffer on the parcel of land.

“The City of Brandon is so pleased to partner with Nature Conservancy of Canada towards the preservation of the small white lady’s-slippers and the native prairie ecosystem that support them in our region, including the eventual creation of an educational natural preserve that can be appreciated by all. The efforts of NCC, private developers and donors will create a space in Brandon that we can all be proud of.” - Rick Chrest, Mayor for the City of Brandon

On January 19, 2021, the Rural Municipality of Cornwallis also supported the project by unanimously passing a resolution to donate almost a hectare (two acres) to the site. This donation will help support establishment of the preserve.

"The RM of Cornwallis is proud to unanimously support the Brandon Urban Ecological Preserve. We look forward to completion of the preserve, which will provide the public with both natural space to enjoy and the opportunity to play a role in conserving our natural heritage through the protection of the small white lady’s-slipper population and the habitats that support them.” – Bill Courtice, Reeve for the R.M. of Cornwallis

NCC is aware that around April 24, 2021, a portion of land which is the subject of the proposed preserve was encroached upon and tilled. After learning of the encroachment, NCC was in contact with the current landowners, including the City of Brandon, Stoneridge Equities, as well as the Province of Manitoba, to determine the nature of the disturbance, and options to remediate the situation.

While this incident is truly unfortunate, NCC is comfortable that there are no further similar and immediate threats to the site and it does not dissuade or dampen NCC’s interest in establishing the preserve. Our focus remains preservation of the local population and raising awareness of this species and the grassland habitats that support it.

As the project moves forward, NCC plans on engaging in a meaningful way with those interested in the conservation of the orchids and will be looking to them to support us in the ongoing stewardship and monitoring activities, which are critical for success. It will be important to ensure that the financial resources are on hand to support the project, immediately and on going, as well as to integrate the preserve into the City of Brandon's planning processes. As part of this planning process, community input and consultation is part of the secondary planning exercise.

The global pandemic has emphasized the critical importance of open natural spaces for our mental and physical health, and NCC sees this as a great opportunity to demonstrate the commitment of the City of Brandon and its residents to cleaner and greener community, capable of supporting endangered species and a healthy natural environment, while growing a thriving and prosperous community.

NCC hopes to have the required funds in place to close the project later this winter, recognizing the challenging time we are currently facing. 

Read more about the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

Read more about the City of Brandon’s land donation.

Donate now!

 NCC may direct all or a portion of gifts committed to this project to NCC’sthe Stewardship Endowment Fund for Manitoba. Revenue generated by the Stewardship Endowment Fund provides for long-term management on properties across the province, including the Brand Urban Ecological Preserve. In the event that this project becomes fully funded or cannot be carried out, your gift will be allocated to the next urgent priority in Manitoba.

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Funding provided by Environment and Climate Change Canada