Kathleen Burton,

Saanich’s Swan Lake shores up replacement for floating boardwalk

Floats for new boardwalk arrive, promising improved wildlife corridor for animals at the sanctuary

The replacement of a popular boardwalk across Swan Lake is progressing.

“We are really excited for this to begin,” said Kathleen Burton, executive director of the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary Society, as she sits on one of the 31 pontoons that will make up the new floating boardwalk across Swan Lake.

A wooden boardwalk cut across the northeastern corner of Swan Lake at a length of more than 300 metres between 1991 and early summer 2018. But nature had weathered it beyond repair, forcing its replacement at an estimated cost of $800,000.

The boardwalk closed in June for crews to dismantle the old boardwalk and recycle its salvageable parts, and last Friday, the first of the floats arrived, with installation scheduled for next week.

Burton promises significant changes.

“You will see a big difference between what used to be there and what these floats will bring to the community,” she said.

They include greater longevity, with floats expected to last 65 to 75 years.

“But they also have this really fantastic fibre-glass concrete composite decking that is going to last and last and last,” she said. “They have a stainless steel structure, and they have a float system that provides a wildlife corridor for the animals that live in the sanctuary.”

Overall, the new boardwalk will not only be sturdier (and therefore cheaper in the long run), but also feature two observation areas for improved educational programming, while protecting the sanctuary’s ecology.

Knappett Construction will install the new boardwalk, which will actually be longer than the existing boardwalk once put together. Construction and installation of the floats will happen on a just-in-time basis, said Burton.

Some 65,000 people visited Swan Lake last year, and the area ranks among the most popular destinations in the region as it combines easy access with ecological diversity in the midst of an urban area that has made it an ideal place for personal contemplation and public education.

Planning and fundraising for the new floating boardwalk began several years ago, and Burton said earlier that the society will continue to fundraise during the construction period to minimize the financial impact on taxpayers after Saanich provided more than $530,000 to the society, which manages the area for the municipality.

“We are still actively looking for funds,” said Burton. “The less we have to ask the [district] for, the better,” she said.


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