A lower pathway in Cuthbert Holmes Park in Saanich sits flooded during a recent day as heavy snow, combined with a high tide, brought up the level of the Colquitz River. Creek upgrades in the past year are expected to help mitigate concerns about impacted fish habitat, says a local biologist. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

A lower pathway in Cuthbert Holmes Park in Saanich sits flooded during a recent day as heavy snow, combined with a high tide, brought up the level of the Colquitz River. Creek upgrades in the past year are expected to help mitigate concerns about impacted fish habitat, says a local biologist. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Upgrades in Saanich’s Cuthbert Holmes Park may help prevent damage to fish habitat

Amidst extreme weather events, native plant buffer assisting stormwater, snow melt runoff

Extreme weather events in Greater Victoria have had an impact on green spaces such as Cuthbert Holmes Park in Saanich, where rain has soaked the ground and heavy snows have been melting.

Excessive rain runoff and snowmelt have the potential to damage salmon spawning habitat, said local biologist Robert Sainsbury.

“Periods of heavy runoff can pose a risk to salmon spawning areas, smothering incubating eggs with silt and debris or washing juvenile fish out to sea,” he said.

Potential mitigation of flooding damage includes the creation or improvement of infrastructure to control runoff or creating structures to protect spawning areas from scouring, added Sainsbury.

Saanich anticipated flood concerns and as such, created the needed structure for in-stream creek support by adding a native plant buffer to a straight and narrow channel of the Colquitz River in the summer of 2021.

Environmental advocate Dorothy Chambers is pleased with the overall improvements made through the district’s restoration efforts and is hopeful that these upgrades will prevent otherwise damaging effects that excessive snowmelt could have as snow continues to thaw.

“Personally, as the boots on the ground regarding the salmon in these reaches of the Colquitz, I am very happy with the improvements to this area,” Chambers said. “It has been designed to attract and support fish, wildlife, and invertebrates, and was planted with native trees and shrubs.”

The Colquitz River runs through this forested park and a large variety of wildlife such as owls, woodpeckers, herons, salmon, plus waterfowl and otters, reside in the area.

EnvironmentSaanich