Putting an excavator into an eco-sensitive area of Saanich is no easy feat. Considering the emphasis Saanich puts on protecting its trees and riparian areas, it makes the recent project to dredge a settling pool along Mount Douglas Creek a monumental step forward.
Sand and sediment removal was completed in July from an area between the weir and a trail that links with Robinwood Drive. It’s part of the ongoing restoration of Mount Douglas Creek, which is now in year four of the five-year plan.
“The problem was the sand and sediment was flowing downstream and filling sensitive areas of [Mount Douglas Creek] closer to Ash Road, where the salmon spawn,” said Darrell Wick, president of the Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society.
The excavator dredged out enough sand and sediment to load about eight tandem dump trucks. The debris was hauled out on a temporarily built access road, where a grove of trees were felled. The trees now lay across the former road, which will soon be cleared of invasive species, planted with native species, and nurtured.
“In a few years you won’t know this was ever an access road, it’ll be so grown over with natural vegetation,” Wick points out.
The new settling pond is much deeper, and about three times the width in one spot.
“It’s a collection of storm water from the downspouts of Gordon Head homes and the streets, and the water quality is high, it supports life.”
The tandem dump trucks also brought rocks in to shore up the creek walls.
The goal is to protect the lower creek, on both sides of Ash Road, from storm surges. Large boulders are piled up and ready to be installed along the creek on the high side of Ash Road later this season. They’ll protect the creek bed and walls.
In May, 35,000 chum fry were held in the weir for two days, gaining an ‘imprint’ for the creek, before being released downstream where they made their way to the ocean. The imprint helps them return to the creek as adults.
Later this year the weir will be outfitted with a flow meter to monitor the water levels and storm surges,
“We’ll likely have to dredge the settling pond again in a few years,” Wick said.
The Pacific Salmon Foundation granted $1,000 towards the flow meter and nearly $10,000 for the upcoming work to armour the banks of the creek near Ash Road.