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Fish arriving in revitalized stream in View Royal, B.C.

The new BC Transit facility was certified "salmon safe" on Sept. 26, 2022. (BC Transit) The new BC Transit facility was certified "salmon safe" on Sept. 26, 2022. (BC Transit)
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New fish have been spotted in a recently revitalized section of Craigflower Creek in View Royal, B.C., thanks to a development site with an environmental focus.

Twenty Coho salmon and seven cutthroat trout have been spotted in the new waterway where BC Transit is building a handyDART centre near Burnside Road and Watkiss Way.

When construction of the facility began last year, work was also done to restore a dried-up streambed that runs into the salmon-bearing Craigflower Creek.

The new BC Transit facility was certified "salmon safe" on Sept. 26, 2022. (BC Transit)Now that the stream is flowing, initial monitoring of the new Craigflower tributary shows that it has become a viable habitat for aquatic life.

"There was no real aquatic habitat here [before]," said aquatic ecologist Cori Barraclough with consultation company Aqua-Tex Scientific.

"We did find two Coho last spring before the construction started," she said. "They were salvaged and removed from the creek and put into Craigflower Creek where they belonged."

"So we weren't surprised when the fish came back, but we were pleasantly surprised at how healthy and how many fish came back – and so quickly," said Barraclough.

The new stream was created by purposefully placing rocks and logs to break up the waterflow, which adds oxygen into the water and reduces streambank erosion.

Shrubs and trees were also strategically planted to protect the streambanks and create shade.

In September, the development was recognized as Vancouver Island's first "salmon safe" site for its efforts to integrate water conservation and stormwater management into its design.

"If every little creek here produced a few dozen fish, then the Craigflower Creek would be in much better condition, and the same holds true for the whole West Coast," said Barraclough.

"So this is a really good example of how development can actually restore the environment [rather] than damage it, and the same goes for individuals in their backyard," she said. "Everybody can do their little bit, and every little bit helps."

According to the non-profit Fraser Basin Council, several bird species, including the American dipper, heron, chickadees and sparrows have also taken a liking to the new stream. 

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