A major milestone has been achieved in Penticton Creek restoration this week, as the showcase project construction and the creek side planting program have been completed.
“We have already had several reports of Kokanee navigating upstream with ease along the new creek bed. The difference you can see in Penticton Creek before and after the restoration project is amazing,” said Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. “The City of Penticton is grateful for the tremendous support of our partners in this initiative, including the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation - their financial support has really made this project possible.”
The restoration of Penticton Creek was identified during the 2012 Downtown Plan consultations as among the top priorities for residents and businesses, and has been identified among the long-term Downtown 101 action items to be completed for revitalizing the downtown.
Construction started Aug. 4, a historic event that saw concrete pulled out of Penticton Creek for the first time in over 50 years. The showcase project was designed to demonstrate what creek restoration can look like, with the goal of restoring fish habitat, maintaining flood protection and stabilizing creek banks.
The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF), provided significant funding for both the planning and construction phases of this project.
HCTF CEO Brian Springinotic says the Foundation’s support of the restoration of Penticton Creek aligns with its previous million-dollar investment in a recovery plan for Okanagan Lake’s kokanee. “The Okanagan Lake Action Plan made strong recommendations to improve spawning habitat in historic kokanee streams such as Penticton Creek,” said Springinotic. “This restoration project will help deliver on those recommendations.”
This sample project includes a small section (80 metres) of Penticton Creek upstream from the Ellis Street Bridge. This site was chosen to substantially improve fish habitat, as well as address severe maintenance issues while showing the community the transformation in a visible area.
Designing a creek bed that safely moves water through the area is important for flood protection, and this was considered in the balance with elements that create good fish habitat – rearing areas (resting, hiding and feeding zones), spawning grounds, and minimizing velocity and elevation barriers to migration. Fish species that stand to benefit from improved habitat include Kokanee and Rainbow Trout.
The public is invited to check out the completed Penticton Creek restoration showcase project. The Ellis Street bridge offers an excellent vantage point. For information, visit www.penticton.ca/downtown.
The Penticton Creek restoration project would not have happened without the funding and contributions of several agencies: Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C., Province of B.C., Penticton Indian Band, South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program, Okanagan Nation Alliance, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Penticton Flyfishers and Downtown Penticton Association.