Edmonton

City fixes Cameron Heights fence after deaths of several deer and years of complaints

A spiked fence in Cameron Heights on which several deer have impaled themselves is being retrofitted with a flat rail.

“It is definitely a Christmas miracle”

The spikes on this fence have now been retrofitted with a flat metal bar to prevent wildlife from becoming impaled. (Art Raham/CBC News)

A spiked fence in Cameron Heights on which several deer have impaled themselves is being retrofitted with a flat rail.

"City contractors are currently installing retrofit rail along the top of the privately-owned and city-owned portions of the fence in Cameron Heights so they no longer pose a danger to wildlife in the ravine," City of Edmonton spokesperson Karen Burgess said an email to CBC News.

The work was delayed due to COVID-19, the need for consent from affected homeowners and a decision to "expand the area of eligible properties that could participate in the fence modification program," Burgess said. 

Burgess said the work began earlier this week and should take about two weeks.

"The city also installed orange snow fencing to the top of the fence as a temporary measure to reduce the danger to wildlife by helping them better see the limits of the fence until the permanent retrofits could be completed," she said. 

The news comes as a relief to homeowner's association president Melanie Wilson who believes at least five deer and one moose have died after becoming impaled on the fence.

She's been pushing for the change for almost four of the eight years she's lived in the community.

"Oh my gosh, we're totally excited that this has finally happened," Wilson said Thursday. "It is definitely a Christmas miracle, that's for sure."

This is how the fence looked prior to the retrofit. (Melanie Wilson / CBC)

Despite the good news, Wilson has concerns with the city's handing of the issue.

"I felt that it took way too long," she said. "For five or so animals to die a gruesome death, and for people, even children, to be at risk for such a long time, it was really disappointing."

"They actually suffered quite severely and suffered for quite a long time before they were shot and killed," she said. "There was definitely no way that they would have made a recovery after their injuries." 

City councillor Sarah Hamilton, who represents the community, praised community members who spoke up and kept pressing the issue

"The community has been a great supporter in terms of holding not just me, but the city to account on when this is going to get done," she said. "I think they did so out of the goodness of their heart, it's pretty awful to see this happen to wild animals."

Hamilton said this type of spiked fence is prevalent throughout Edmonton, but seems to really be an issue in Cameron Heights.

"It just so happens that in this particular neighbourhood it doesn't really work for the wildlife." 

The city says installing the metal rail should be completed by year's end. (Art Raham/CBC News)

Burgess said an update to the City of Edmonton's design and construction standards to be completed by the end of the year, will exclude spiked fences.

"In the meantime, a moratorium has been placed on picket-style subdivision perimeter fences to prevent new fencing from conflicting with wildlife," she said.

The cost of the retrofit won't be known until the job is complete, Burgess said.

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