Simms Park Refocus to Improve Side Channel Connectivity
This project involves the redesign of a high-priority habitat restoration project on the Courtenay River. The original habitat restoration design that was developed for the project was deemed too complicated, too expensive, and better suited for an upstream habitat restoration, as it did not take into consideration the tidal influences at the site. A re-working of the concept plan and budget will be worthwhile, as this project has the potential to provide a maximum benefit to fish, wildlife, and the community. The re-worked design will be vetted through the appropriate stakeholders for feedback and buy-in. Coho, Chinook, Chum, Pink and Steelhead Salmon, as well as Cutthroat Trout, will all benefit from this project.
The project will enhance habitat by improving connectivity between the slough, pond and finger, thereby improving access for fish. This will provide the fish with refuge from seals, as well as rearing and foraging opportunities in accessible high-quality habitat. Overall, there will be approximately 2,160 square metres of low-water fish habitat improvement (around 6,480 square metres at high water). The project will result in the restoration of a tidal influenced off-channel section of the Courtenay River. Tidal channels are typically very productive areas that provide a habitat niche for fish, marine plants and other wildlife. The project is located in a public park that is well-utilized by the community, and there are many opportunities for increasing community engagement, including through volunteer planting, interpretive signage and one-to-one outreach during the construction phase. In addition, the project will result in increased opportunities for salmon and wildlife viewing for the public.
Final Report: Executive Summary
In April of 2016 the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program (FWCP) provided seed funding to the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society (CVPWS) to develop a new restoration prescription for a high priority habitat restoration project alongside the Courtenay River. The objective of this project was to use the seed funding to build on previous work done in order to develop a refocused restoration plan and associated budget which would be cost effective and would provide the maximum benefits to fish, wildlife and the community; and therefore have a high likelihood of being implemented. The project area, located in Simms Millennium Park (Simms Park) – Courtenay, B.C., is of high importance as off-channel fish habitat for juvenile salmonids. This area provides one of only three off-channel habitats for juvenile salmonids along a three kilometre stretch of upper ecotone of the Courtenay River estuary. The restoration of this area in order to provide functioning off-channel habitat will address issues to juvenile salmonids from seal predation, displacement during high flows, and the need for ecologically diverse habitats in a dynamic tidally influenced system. Currently, the offchannel fish habitat in Simms Park is marginal and there is a high potential for improvement. At present, the area has a pond and blind channel (the ‘finger’) that are separated from each other and the Courtenay Slough by high elevation culverts. The aim of the restoration is to increase the habitat quality and tidal exchange in the pond and finger. Both the pond and the finger are utilized by fish, however habitat quality is low, and tidal flushing is restricted due to the elevations of the culverts at either end of the pond. Increased access to the pond and finger will provide salmon with refuge from seals and fish with rearing and foraging opportunities.
Click the provincial database link below to read the full final report for this project.