Colquitz Creek

Colquitz creek runs under the Trans Canada highway just out side Victoria, BC. The creek has appeared in this blog before, but this conservation success story is once again facing a threat, this time from the recently begun construction of the Mackenzie interchange. This project is being constructed to address a huge traffic bottle neck (the “colwood crawl”) entering Victoria, which exists largely because of the complete lack of leadership in the capital region municipalities with regards to transit and transportation (and sewage and…on and on).

Coho salmon in the lower reaches of the creek, ten minutes from downtown Victoria

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This project encroaches well into Cuthbert homes park, very close to where the lower creek runs out into portage inlet, to the gorge waterway and eventually out into the Salish sea. While like with every project in BC lots of people say things like “protecting the environment”and “biodiversity” in press releases the project actually has been incredibly impactful to this stream and lower river habitat.

This years fall return once again numbers over 1000 coho, and a handful of sea run cutthroat to the fish counting fence. While there is no doubt this is a success, this remarkable, productive and important habitat for so many species, is once again under pressure from the urban environment that surrounds it.

If you think that chain sawing down trees that have been roosts for red tail Hawks for decades and letting uncontained construction runoff including massive sediment plumes run into a salmon bearing creek and adjoining bird sanctuary is ok, then I guess this blog will never reach you. If this does however strike any kind of chord in you, I assert firmly that this is a special place, a stream that has arisen from the ashes of urban indifference, and an interconnected part of the community that it runs through.

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/mckenzie-interchange-work-raises-fears-for-fish-birds-1.3426758

These are just a few of the hardworking groups that are fighting to protect this creek

Colquitz salmonid stewardship and education society

They operate the fish counting fence on the river in cuthbert homes park. They check the trap 10 am most weekends once the rain comes in the fall. Stop by and say hello to the hardworking volunteers.

there are links to many different groups and projects here

http://colquitzcoalition.com

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5 thoughts on “Colquitz Creek

  1. I recall that those trees were one of the few places that herons nested in the CRD, (there and Beacon Hill Park) That’s when I was a kid practicing at the archery range that was hidden in there. At the other side was the Drive in and a busy motocross coarse.
    As much as I think the new interchange is a waste of money, and will only be a bandage on the traffic problem. I can’t picture the silt having a huge effect on the fish. The effected lower section of the river has always been soft mud anyways. I’ve fallen in there enough times. No gravel to fill.
    Wanna see a real mess. Check out the muck construction of the new marina down in the harbour is kicking up. That IS home to SRCT, young coho, baitfish, otters and myriads of marine critters.

    • My intention is not to overblow what will probably be a limited impact on the lower river, and I should clarify that while fish do spawn below the fence, spawning gravel isn’t likely to be heavily affected. The amount of construction runoff, coupled with periodic oil spills, road runoff, chemicals dumping and general abuse that this waterway gets already and I concede your point. Silt flushes especially in high water years are even naturally occurring to a point. 1000 + fish is probably seeding the existing spawning gravel fairly well but i am just trying to highlight the irresponsibility that goes into these types of urban projects, with little to no monitoring as you rightly point out in your example, unfortunately these impacts are easy to find. Since I have been out of the area for a while, which marina are you speaking of?
      Aside from the affected bird habitat there are parr around in the lower river/ portage inlet, big silt flushes like that can kill them. There is/was a large heron rookery in that park in addition to the bird of prey habitat. Anyway thanks for the comment.

  2. I don’t think for a moment that the planners are not aware of damage that is going to be done. Environmental assessments were done. Some visible token efforts are made to hopefully please the public but in the end some compromise is made, always to the negative effect of the wild things. Just like the pipeline issue. How many chops can the tree take before it falls down. I’m amazed that our little trout do so well when pounded from either end. Frustrating as Hell for the minority of us that genuinely give a shit.

    The new marina they building is near Lime Bay, Spinnakers Pub. I hope a good SW storm hits it hard when it is full of million dollar yachts.

  3. It is great to see so many coho back in the creek again , but said that little effort has been put in to growing the number of sea run trout . My Dad grew up fishing for those trout in the late 1930 – 1950 then taking me and I have to say I caught far to many in the 1970 s and seen the numbers fall quick what a great place and time for a young boy to grow up.

    • I would say you are lucky that at least you got to experience that abundance. While the focus of rehabilitation is centred on coho largely there are some very passionate cutthroat lovers involved in those projects, and there still are good numbers of cutthroat in the gorge waterway. I haven’t seen a lot of cutthroat in the trap in my time there so they must be utilizing other creeks for spawning in the region, unfortunately and unsuprisingly because they have little food or commercial value they remain low on the specific rehabilitation target list. Thanks for sharing.

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