City to review safety measures around retention ponds after boy drowned

A drowning last week has prompted a review of safety measures around Calgary's 215 storm ponds.

Mother of Raheel Uddin says the city should install fences around its storm ponds to protect children

Raheel Uddin, 5, died in hospital a day after being pulled from a northeast Calgary retention pond. His mother is now calling for increased safety around the city's 215 storm ponds. (Submitted by Rozina Mina)

The City of Calgary says it will revisit the safety measures around its retention ponds after a five-year-old autistic boy drowned last week.

Raheel Uddin died in hospital on June 30, a day after he was pulled from a retention pond near his family's home in the northeast community of Saddle Ridge. Raheel's mother, Rozina Mina, has called for the city to place fences around the storm ponds in the wake of her son's death.

Alysha Saville, a spokesperson for the City of Calgary, said the incident has prompted the city to review its protection measures around open water storm ponds, but that city policy has been to keep the ponds open to the public as much as possible.

The 215 wet storm ponds throughout the city are part of the municipal drainage system, Saville said, but many community members see them as lakes. As such, the city has tried to keep the ponds unfenced.

"We have worked with residents who live near wet storm ponds to keep them open so that citizens and residents can interact with nature, although that access is limited to seeing and not touching," she said.

"We do not encourage fishing, boating, swimming, skating, or any other recreational activity in the wet storm ponds."

Saville said the city is "open to working with communities to discuss and collaborate on options for increased safety, including education on hazards and risks, so that we can keep people safe."

However, she said Raheel's death has prompted the city to "revisit our level of protection around wet storm ponds across the city to ensure that we have appropriate safety levels in place at both the wet storm pond design and maintenance phases."

Five-year-old Raheel had wandered away from his family home shortly after finishing his last day of school last Friday. Calgary EMS were called to the pond around 5:15 p.m. The boy was taken to hospital but died of his injuries on Saturday.