The Peninsula Streams Society (PSS) hosted a Tod Creek Watershed panel and information session on restoration and progress on Saturday at the First Unitarian Church of Victoria.
Displays and posters informed attendees on the progress of several restoration projects around the area, but a large portion of the session focused on the introduction of salmon into Prospect Lake.
Attendees heard from representatives from the Peninsula Streams Society, the District of Saanich, an expert on inland waters, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and a councillor for the Tsartlip First Nation.
At the meeting, Shawn Steele, of the Prospect Lake Preservation Society, said there was a lack of scientific evidence to support introducing salmon into Prospect Lake.
There were concerns that the lake level would be lowered to ensure salmon have access to Tod Creek and the ocean.
In a follow-up interview, Ian Bruce, executive co-ordinator of the Peninsula Streams Society, said the DFO could legally lower the lake level, but said that it was “highly unlikely” given opposition, and said it was possible to introduce fish without lowering the lake.
Bruce said the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has been supporting fish in the lake since the 1980s, and felt that introducing salmon would bring economic and ecological benefits to the area.
Bruce emphasized during the meeting that it was a “re-introduction,” citing First Nations history and a fish ladder that was installed in the original Vancouver Portland Cement Company dam in 1917.
Bruce said that one goal of the meeting was to reassure lake residents that the fish were not a threat to the lake.
“We were quite pleased in the sense that there was a good turnout from the overall community,” said Bruce, who counted about 60-70 attendees throughout the afternoon.
In a follow-up interview, Steele said the Prospect Lake Preservation Society wanted to come to a consensus on the issue before making any comments.
An audience member, who said he was part of the Prospect Lake Preservation Society, said there was a misconception that they are against salmon being in the lake and that they were only concerned with property values.
He said: “personally, I’d like to see my property values go down,” which elicited some laughs from the audience.
No representative from the province was present, which Bruce said was disappointing, as a weir on the lake is licensed by the Water Management Branch of the province.
The province also plants rainbow trout in the lake and is responsible for the cutthroat trout in the whole watershed.
— with files from