West Van Streamkeepers hope to build a new habitat for young fish
It isn’t much more than a plot of damp grass at the moment, but if a West Vancouver Streamkeepers Society project gets the go-ahead a community park will be the new home of a rearing pond for salmon and trout.
The Streamkeepers, with in-kind help from Chapman Land Surveying, Sartori Environmental Services and CREUS Engineering, have developed preliminary designs for a rearing pond in Memorial Park, located on Marine Drive between 19th and 21st streets.
Such a pond serves as habitat for coho salmon and cutthroat trout to grow as they spend their first year in fresh water. Each year, the Streamkeepers release fry into West Vancouver streams to bolster the salmon run. The coho fry they release would, in addition to the native fry, find the pond as they navigate the streams. The other types of salmon found in West Van streams — chum, pink and chinook — all go to sea quickly and would not spend any time in a rearing pond.
To build the habitat, water from McDonald Creek, which runs through Memorial Park, would be partially diverted by a plastic pipe. That pipe would feed the pond area, which, according to the group’s plans, would be about 100 feet long and 30 feet wide and sit adjacent to the rocky path currently in the park.
“The importance of the pipe is that it maintains a constant speed,” said Bill McAllister, a director with the Streamkeepers.
“If you get salmon in the pools and you have a high-water event, it could wash them out and they could die.”
In order to gain approval for the project, the Streamkeepers delivered a letter on Feb.17 to District of West Vancouver council outlining their intentions. They’ve also had all councillors as well as district staff from the engineering, parks and environment departments to the site to outline the plan. No funding from the district is being sought for the pond.
If the district approves the project, after staff examines its merits, both the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the province’s Ministry of Environment will also have to give the Streamkeepers the green light to move ahead.
While that senior level of endorsement is still a ways off, the idea is getting a glowing review from one local politician.
“There is tremendous community energy behind this project,” said Coun. Trish Panz, in a phone interview with The Outlook.
“And I wanted to ask staff for a report on it and ask for how we can work and collaborate with the Streamkeepers. Anything we can do to offer some liftoff is great.”
Part of the approval procedure, added Streamkeeper director John Barker, will be a public engagement process. Information on the pond will be posted in the West Vancouver Memorial Library and the Streamkeepers are planning on hosting information sessions in the park so residents can get a sense of the placement and size of the job.
“We want feedback, that’s a very important part of this,” said Barker.
“And we’ll be front and centre at the sessions.”
Currently, there is a Streamkeeper-maintained rearing pond in West Van’s Hay Park. The Streamkeepers are responsible for ensuring the pond’s pipe and stream entrance are free of debris so both the water and fish can move easily. A similar arrangement would be established for the Memorial Park pond if it gets the green light.