Members of the Victoria Real Estate Board donate $10,000 to Peninsula Streams Society during a tour of the restored Swan Lake salmon bearing stream that flows into Colquitz River. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Peninsula Streams given $10K towards restored Colquitz watershed

Victoria Real Estate Board donates time, money to Saanich waterway

It was on a walk and talk along Swan Creek last week that the Peninsula Streams Society was awarded $10,000 from the Victoria Real Estate Board towards its Colquitz watershed stewardship program.

Ian Bruce, the executive director of Peninsula Streams Society, showed a group of members from VREB just how resilient the local salmon are.

“My first introduction to this creek was a home heating oil spill that leaked in Swan Creek,” Bruce recalled. “I’m in the water, hip deep in my waders with a film of oil across the top of the creek and something bumps me in the back of the leg. I find this [massive] coho swimming under me and I’m thinking, what is this doing here.”

Before the Marigold area was developed, Colquitz and Swan Creek were key spawning grounds for coho salmon and cutthroat trout. At some point at least 50 years ago, Swan Creek was split and had two salmon-bearing tributaries which rerouted through a new channel of Swan Creek, which was dug out by an excavator near Violet and Daisy avenues.

“It’s amazing they didn’t think to throw a few shovels of gravel in here,” Bruce said.

The Friends of the Swan Creek Watershed, one of the many hyper-local volunteer efforts that Peninsula Streams Society supports and works with, put in hundreds of hours into restoring the Swan Creek stream in the last few years. Even despite decades without a gravel base, which is paramount for the spawning fish, the fish continue to return. Upwards of 80 salmon came through in the most recent spawning cycle.

“We have a number of principles and one of them is the environment and being a good steward,” said Anthony Wick, chair of the VREB’s community relations committee.

VREB has made previous donations to Habitat for Humanity and HeroWork. This year it was to Peninsula Streams.

“We value the community, clean water, clean air, the more we clean up the environment the better our communities can be,” Wick said.

Peninsula Streams runs three education programs across the Peninsula free of charge. In Saanich, the Grade 3 program Watershed and Salmon Life-Cycle Program is now in its 12th year, with 550 students per year at Prospect, Lochside, Cordova Bay and McKenzie eleemntary schools.

The Grade 5 program ‘Cool Carbon Connections,’ is now in its 3rd year and is also delivered to McKenzie elementary, while the Grade 6 program Creatures of Habitat reaches 700 students per year, including Royal Oak and Colquitz middle schools.

reporter@saanichnews.com