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West Van council gives fry a chance
A new sanctuary for young coho salmon to grow strong in before heading to the rough Pacific Ocean will be built in Memorial Park this year.
District council gave the go-ahead for the West Vancouver Streamkeepers Society to build the rearing pond next to McDonald Creek near Marine Drive and 19th Street.
“Coho need to live in fresh water for a year before going to the ocean, but other salmon go directly there,” said Bill McAllister, a director with the Streamkeepers.
He predicts young cutthroat trout will also use the habitat.
After getting a much-needed head start in the pond, the coho will spend two years at sea before the females head back to their original streams to lay eggs and die.
The $80,000 initial phase of the project, which includes design, engineering, environmental mitigation and construction elements, was fundraised for by the Streamkeepers.
Landscaping, an information kiosk, bridge and pathways will not be completed until more money is raised, but West Vancouver council offered district services to help with construction.
“I want people to gain an appreciation of the life cycle of these salmon and the importance of maintaining creeks here on the North Shore,” McAllister added.
Educational field trips will be available for school children to see the fry up close.
Juvenile salmon often have a rough start to life, facing flooding creeks and numerous predators. Fry in McDonald Creek have to pass through forests, a small concrete dam and underneath busy roads for an entire year before reaching the ocean at the West Van seawall.
The pond will help bolster the salmon run by protecting the fry as they grow big enough to face the turbulent ocean.
“It can be hard for the salmon to find places to hide in streams. The pond will make them much safer,” McAllister said.
Around 130 truckloads of dirt and rock need to be removed from the site, and boulders and wood hauled in. Most of the debris can be used in other West Van projects, allowing the Streamkeepers to save money on tipping fees.
The provincial government approved the project’s changes to McDonald Creek’s flow in late June, allowing the rearing pond plans to be brought before council. The Streamkeepers had originally pitched the idea in February.
The society built another rearing pond on McDonald Creek in Hay Park in 2004.