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District of North Saanich and Peninsula Streams Society collaborate to restore Chalet Creek

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District of North Saanich and Peninsula Streams Society collaborate to restore Chalet Creek

The District of North Saanich, which is installing an open arch culvert beneath Chalet Road this summer, is collaborating with the Peninsula Streams Society to restore the lower portion of Chalet Creek as a healthier habitat for native fish species.

During the extreme rainfall event on November 15, 2021, the District closed Chalet Road at Chalet Creek, when the road and culvert failed, resulting in significant localized erosion, damage of the downstream creek bed, and the loss of a section of water main.

As part of the provincial environmental permitting requirement, the District has approached the reconstruction of the road and new culvert installation as an opportunity to improve the fish-bearing environment of the natural creek bed, from the culvert downstream to the high tide mark.

As the construction is within a registered archaeological site, the District is working with its consultant and W̱SIḴEM (Tseycum) First Nation to monitor portions of work.

Chalet Creek originates at a large pond near Tatlow Road and Alder Road and runs through mostly agricultural land before draining into Deep Cove. Much of the creek was ditched during the late 1800s for agricultural purposes.

Historically, Chalet Creek supported populations of cutthroat trout, coho, and chum.  But in recent years, the Peninsula Streams Society has reported disappointing returns of fish—predominantly because of access issues.

The District is now resolving many of these access issues with the installation of the open arch culvert that supports the natural stream bed beneath it. The reinstallation of the natural stream bed supports fish passage in all flow conditions.

Local students, teachers, and residents have long held a stake in promoting the environmental significance, and strengthening the ecological health, of Chalet Creek.

Parkland High School students, led by local biology teacher Hans Bauer, started the Chalet Creek Streamkeepers (now known as the “Friends of Chalet Creek”) in 1996. The group was a founding member of the Peninsula Streams Society, which has been conducting restoration work on Chalet Creek since 2002.

Since then, thousands of Deep Cove Elementary School students have released more than 10,000 salmon fry in the creek. Students have also planted more than 150 trees in the surrounding area.

The Friends of Chalet Creek continue to tackle restoration work on private properties, through which the creek winds. Their aim is to restore the channel to a more natural state so that the creek functions properly and can support a more diverse suite of native plant and animal species.

The cumulative, long-term impact of the efforts of these students, teachers, and property owners, supported by the District and community and ecological groups, has been the extensive restoration and fish habitat creation in Chalet Creek.

This year, the Peninsula Streams Society has reported spotting one cutthroat trout and four juvenile coho in Chalet Creek and expects to see much larger returns in the future.

Northridge Excavating Ltd. was awarded the construction tender in the amount of $582,713.25, excluding tax, and is scheduled to complete the work by September 30, 2022.

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