Current Initiatives & Projects
The physical reconstruction of the creek channel is scheduled for summer 2015. BCI will be working with the Oak Bay High School from 2013 onwards, introducing the students to the project, developing long term curriculum and getting the students involved in the design of the restoration.
The District of Oak Bay, in partnership with the Bowker Creek Initiative (BCI), (comprised of the Capital Regional District, and the municipalities of Oak Bay, Victoria and Saanich along with community groups, and institutions, such as University of Victoria and Urban Development Institute), are pleased to have been selected as the successful candidate in receiving $738,000 from the Innovations Fund, Water and Wastewater Investment Category. This fund is administered by Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) as part of the Gas Tax/Public Transit funds.
Currently, this reach of Bowker Creek, is contained in an open concrete channel, sustaining no aquatic life or native riparian habitat and is known site for flash flooding in times of heavy rainfall. As the Greater Victoria School District (SD 61), in cooperation with the District of Oak Bay, is undergoing a redesign process for a new school, a Neighbourhood Learning Centre (including a theatre, learning and daycare facilities) and new sports fields, this is an excellent opportunity to restore this section of the creek.
Since the creek runs through the community high school property, partnership opportunities exist to involve students in all aspects of creek restoration, from channel design and planting to monitoring, and to the creation of curriculum where the naturalized creek becomes an outdoor classroom and a community amenity. The project to restore Bowker Creek at its Oak Bay High School reach demonstrates collaboration, partnerships, long-term visionary thinking and development of innovative green rainwater infrastructure. Collaboration, partnerships, timing and external funding are critical to take advantage of this innovative project.
“With the recent acceptance by all three municipalities of the Bowker Creek Blueprint: A 100-year action plan to restore the Bowker Creek watershed, moving forward with this project is a true "watershed moment" for the creek and the community. It will be a wonderful example of how a long term coordinated plan to restore function to a degraded watershed can happen, piece by piece, and when opportunities arise, when we work together towards a common vision.” Jody Watson, Chair of BCI
Integrated Stormwater Management Plan
An Integrated Stormwater Management Plan provides a basis for making watershed management decisions. The plan addresses stormwater and rainwater management together with:
- the health of the creek and riparian areas, including water quality
- community use of the watershed – e.g., a greenway corridor following the creek
- land use and low impact development
- flooding and erosion concerns.
In other words, an ISMP addresses watershed health from an environmental, economic and social perspective.
The Bowker Creek Initiative has completed Phase 1 of the Bowker ISMP – a ‘Master Drainage Plan’ that addresses flooding and erosion issues from an engineering perspective. Further work (Phase 2) is required to integrate the engineering perspective with environmental and social considerations. Once complete, the ISMP will address most of the goals and objectives in the Bowker Creek Watershed Management Plan.
Bioengineering and native planting
Most of the above-ground sections of Bowker Creek are lined with non-native species. Erosion is also a problem in many areas, due to the unnatural shape of the channel as well as the ‘flashy’ runoff coming from the urban watershed.
Bioengineering – the use of living plant material to stabilize slopes – is often done using willow cuttings woven into fence-like structures called ‘wattles’. This will continue to be a solution for eroding banks along Bowker Creek.
The planting of native trees and shrubs will also continue to be done on an opportunistic basis. The next target location is in Oak Bay adjacent to Monteith Street. This vacant municipal lot could be transformed into a hub of biodiversity as well as a native plant demonstration site, once funding is secured. The BCI hopes to work with neighbours and interested members of the public to turn this location into a community amenity.
photo: Ian Graeme photo: Rob Miller
Bioengineering using willow “wattles” is an effective and inexpensive way to protect stream banks from erosion
The BCI Coordinator and members of the Outreach Subcommittee are always working to raise the profile of the Initiative and its goals. Display materials are brought to different community events throughout the year, and talks are given to various groups. Special events to highlight the Initiative were held in November 2007 and March and June 2008.
The Stream Team Society brings the Bowker Creek watershed model to many events, and this interactive teaching tool is always a hit.
The annual Bowker Creek Cleanup and Rubber Duck Race has been happening since 1998. This race is organized by the Oak Bay High School Visions Environmental Club and raises funds to support efforts to rehabilitate Bowker Creek. The event also raises awareness regarding the creek.
photo: Angus Stewart
Bowker Creek Stories Video Project
The Bowker Creek Video project is an idea developed by the BCI Outreach Subcommittee. We have fantastic, professional video footage of our June 14th 2008 event, prior events, and interviews with elders who remember the creek in former times. We have a vision of an engaging video piece made up of four or five short segments that can be watched individually or in sequence, that describe the creek in the past and present, show how the community is engaging with the Initiative, and highlight our hopeful vision for the future. Our funding search to hire a video editor has not yet borne fruit - if there are any video editors out there willing to volunteer some time to work with our footage, we would love to work with you!
photo: Carolyn Knight
Water Quality and Quantity Monitoring
Water quality samples are taken twice a year, for basic indicators of urban water quality such as nutrients, hydrocarbons, fecal coliforms (sewage) and metals. This ongoing sampling provides a baseline against which improvement can be measured. Water quantity (stream flow) is also measured on an ongoing basis in two locations. This water quantity data was useful for the Master Drainage Plan and will also provide a baseline against which future changes could be measured. A new sampling method is now being evaluated - using the collection of stream-dwelling invertebrates to provide a more precise indicator of overall creek health.