Affected Area (Map & Photos)

Map of Bretona Area

An industrial rail yard has recently been built in the Bretona Community in the County of Strathcona near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The rail yard is right next to two wildlife conservation areas and two homes, Bretona Pond, and Mill Creek; and a very short distance from Colchester Elementary School, many other homes, and a 27-hole golf course.

Click on the map to get a closer look.


The following photos were taken at the Bretona Pond Buck-for-Wildlife Area, the Bretona ConservAction Area and the Kristensen acreage between 1978 and the present. These photos show visually just how inappropriate it is to build and operate an industrial rail yard in this community. Both protected wildlife conservation areas are negatively impacted by the rail yard. (All photos are copyrighted.)

Click on each photo to get a closer look.

At the encouragement of the Kristensen family, the Bretona Pond Buck-for-Wildlife Area was established in 1985 by the Alberta Fish and Wildlife Division, with the participation of the County of Strathcona, Colchester Agriculture Society and Edmonton Natural History Society. The western boundary of this conservation area is less than 30m from the Cando rail yard property:

A parking lot was built to accommodate all of the natural historians who come birdwatching at Bretona Pond:

Thousands of  waterfowl breed, feed, moult and stop over (spring and fall) at Bretona Pond. The pond has been listed as critical wetland habitat, and Strathcona County listed it as a significant natural feature in its 1987 Outdoor Master Plan. The south half of the Cando rail yard drains into this pond, which poses a major hazard:

Canada geese appear on Bretona Pond by the thousands in spring and fall:

An interpretive trail was built to allow birdwatchers to get down to the shore of Bretona Pond:

Bracket fungus on poplar tree right next to the Bretona Pond trail:

Willow in the spring:

Some absolutely magnificent sunrises have been observed over Bretona Pond for the past 32 years:

Goldenrod silhouetted against a sunrise:

The trail along the east shore of Bretona Pond provides opportunities for families to study the many plant and animal species that live here:

Eared grebes nest in colonies at Bretona Pond in some years. In 1996, there were 101 eared grebe nests counted along the shore of Bretona Pond:

The Bretona area generally gets more rain showers than the rest of the Edmonton and Sherwood Park areas, often resulting in rainbows like this:

In the spring and following major rainstorms, striped chorus frogs can be heard calling by the hundreds in the ponds and marshes of the area:

Another common, but secretive, amphibian of the Bretona area is the blotched tiger salamander which often lives in the burrows of pocket gophers:

Many different species of mushrooms grow on the poplar forest floor along the east shore of Bretona Pond and on the Bretona ConservAction Area:

A fire caused by CN in May 1992 burned the western end of the Bretona Pond Buck-for-Wildlife Area. Idling and slow-moving locomotives in the Cando rail yard, coupled with spilled and leaked flammable oil, grease and solvents from locomotives and 225 petroleum tanker cars, are certain ingredients for more fires:

Sunrise over our acreage and Bretona Pond:

182 bird species have been recorded in the Bretona area. Many of these feed at the numerous bird feeders on our acreage, like this black-capped chickadee:

Cedar waxwings feed on saskatoons, choke cherries and pin cherries that grow wild in the area:

A wild male ring-necked pheasant stayed at our acreage for over 2 years (undoubtedly because he was fed barley and wheat every day). Phil, which is what we named him, finally left broken-hearted because he couldn’t find a girlfriend in the neighbourhood:

In 1982, a barn swallow built her nest on top of a linseed oil can in our garage:

This house wren nested right by our vegetable garden in 1999:

In 1989, the Kristensen family set aside 100 acres of their land as the Bretona ConservAction Area under the Strathcona County ConservAction program which was established to encourage landowners to dedicate parcels of private land for conservation purposes. The western boundary of this protected area is less than 30m from the Cando rail yard property:

About 5km of trail are maintained on the Bretona ConservAction Area for private natural history and birdwatching tours:

School students and their parents are taken for environmental education tours at the 2 Bretona conservation areas:

Numerous orchid species grow on the 2 Bretona protected areas. This is the spotted coral-root orchid:

The pale coral-root orchid:

And, the very large and showy yellow lady slipper:

Killdeer Pond on the Bretona ConservAction Area:

Ragwort growing along the shore of Killdeer Pond:

This long-eared owl, a very elusive species, nested on the Bretona ConservAction Area in 1999. Nesting birds will be disturbed by the noise of idling and slow-moving locomotives, shunting and coupling of tanker cars, switching and brake squeal, and many other noises associated with a rail yard:

Many interesting insects make the Bretona conservation areas their home; for example these 2 beetles on a wild white geranium:

In some years, black terns nest in the area. This black tern chick was born on the Bretona ConservAction Area in 1992:

Tree swallows are the most common nesters in close to 90 nestboxes erected on the 2 wildlife conservation areas:

Early blue violets are among the first wildflowers to bloom in the area in spring:

Star-flowered Solomon’s seal is one of the most common members of the lily family in the area:

Porcupines are common mammals in the area, and feed on their favourite food, willow bark:

Red-winged blackbirds nest in the cattails in marshes and along the shoreline of ponds:

In the winter, hoar frost often settles on the trees:

Huge hoar frost crystals also form on any dry vegetation left standing in the winter, such as this cow parsnip:

Robins are common nesters at both conservation areas, and are among the first migratory birds back in the spring:

The great horned owl, Alberta’s bird emblem, also nests in the Bretona area. They often start nesting well before the snow has left the ground:

Indian pipe, a mysterious-looking saprophyte, suddenly appears on the forest floor in the middle of summer:

Canada anemone grows abundantly at the edge of poplar stands:

Many spider species spin their webs that are seldom noticed except when the early morning dew settles on them:

Moths, which are primarily nocturnal, are eaten by a variety of bird species:

Many waterfowl species nest and raise their broods at the 2 protected areas. This is a blue-winged teal nest:

Killdeer are the first shorebirds to return in the spring, and lay their 4 eggs in a small depression in the ground lined only with a few small rocks, wood chips, twigs and large seeds:

Western Canada violets grow in the shade of mature poplar stands:

Goatsbeard proudly show off their bold yellow flowers out in the open meadows:

Western wood frogs frequent all of the ponds and marshes in the 2 protected areas:

Although muskrats usually stay under pushups on top of the ice in winter, occasionally we see their tracks in the snow at Bretona Pond:

Asters are prolific bloomers in the late summer and early fall:

Arrow-leaved coltsfoot often blooms early in the spring before the last patches of snow have left low lying areas:

Fire caused by CN April 14, 1991 on the Bretona ConservAction Area. Approximately 3,700 trees and shrubs burned in the fire.  It took 2.5 years for CN to settle our compensation claim. We are greatly concerned about additional fires starting at the Cando rail yard:

Storm clouds are brewing over the Bretona ConservAction Area. That storm is the controversy of the rail yard being built by Cando Contracting Ltd. on CN right-of-way to store petroleum tanker cars owned by Imperial Oil Ltd.:

Cando Contracting Ltd., CN and Imperial Oil Ltd. could not possibly have selected a worse location for an industrial rail yard:

%d bloggers like this: