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2002 Wastewater — Co-winner 2

Corporation of The District of Saanich, British Columbia

Relocation and Restoration of Upper Blenkinsop Creek

Population: 107,574

A tributary of the Colquitz River, the Upper Blenkinsop Creek had been severely degraded by agriculture and urban development over the last century. Working closely with the farmer whose land included part of the upper creek, the Corporation of the District of Saanich relocated and restored the creek to its original stream channel. Native plants were also restored, increasing plant cover and bird habitat. In fact, there was an almost immediate increase in the number of bird species inhabiting the area-a boon for farmers, as the birds feed on insects that farmers would have otherwise controlled with chemical pesticides. The number of service roads was reduced from two to one, and viewing platforms and interpretive signs are to be installed at various locations along the creek for educational purposes.

Background

The diverse natural environment of the Saanich region coexists with a growing metropolitan area of residential development and intensive agriculture. In its official community plan, the District of Saanich recognizes this "uncommon pattern" as a feature greatly valued by residents, but one that needs to be protected for future generations. Therefore, the official plan emphasizes projects that meet the district's goals of sustainable development, community involvement and environmental protection. Saanich has also been a participant in FCM's Partners for Climate Protection since 1996 and has committed itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The area's shorelines and waters are of special value to the community. In particular, municipal watersheds, such as the Upper Blenkinsop Creek, are to be maintained and enhanced as a central element of community planning.

The district's past approach to solving municipal agricultural issues tended to be short-term and reactive. Stakeholder concerns and environmental management practices were often not fully addressed. In contrast, the relocation and restoration of the Upper Blenkinsop Creek is an example of a long-term approach to problem solving that has required the district to reserve more time for environmental permitting and public consultation.

Results

  • The stream channel and vegetation have been restored to their approximate historical conditions.
  • Interpretive signs, describing the types of vegetation planted, and viewing platforms will be added to regional trails, giving the community an opportunity to learn more about the creek and its restoration.
  • Once the vegetation matures, it will reduce sediment erosion that has historically caused significant downstream habitat degradation and enhanced eutrophication of Swan Lake. Eutrophication can be hastened by human activities when runoff from sources, such as lawns, golf courses, and farmers' fields, bring excessive levels of plant nutrients (primarily phosphorus, nitrogen and carbon) to bodies of water. The nutrients promote the growth of algae or other plants that can affect water quality and disturb the ecological balance.
  • The farmer has gained more arable land and a sustainable way to control pests.

Lessons Learned

  • Involving many partners was critical to achieving successful results. "It's amazing how much we accomplished together instead of individually," said Mr. Sparanese. "Two heads are better than one!"
  • A significant amount of marine clay was discovered mid-way through the excavation of the realigned stream channel. Digging it out required four times more handling than had been budgeted and the clay could not be mixed with other soils on-site. Additional costs were incurred to remove the clay by truck and to rebuild the farmer's road, which had suffered from the truck traffic and other work by heavy machinery. The final project evaluation included a recommendation to require a soil profile in future projects.
  • A geotechnical profile should have been used to integrate more fully the design and reduce the costs associated with materials handling, transportation and construction.

Partners

External

  • Aqua-Tex Scientific Consulting Ltd.
  • Conservation Connection
  • Fisheries Renewal BC's Salmonid Renewal Program
  • Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary
  • B.C. departments of the Environment and Municipal Affairs
  • Galey Bros. Farms
  • Environment Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • University of Victoria
  • Pacific Christian Academy
  • Glen Lyon Private School
  • District of Saanich School Board

Internal

  • Engineering, Planning and Environment, Parks, and Public Works departments
Page Updated: 21/12/2015