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Environment minister approves of creek restoration
Environment minister Mary Polak got a close look this week at plans for a restoration of Mission Creek’s natural meanders in its lower reaches, and was positive about a project to set back the dikes which currently restrict its flows.
She was impressed by the number of agencies working together on the project, called the Mission Creek Restoration Initiative, as described for her by Todd Cashin, manager of subdivision, agriculture and environment for the City of Kelowna
The minister was visiting Kelowna to encourage people to comment on provincial proposals for a new water act. While here, she toured a property which was recently acquired in order to provide land where the dikes could be set back to allow the creak to meander more like it used to, before it was channelized to try and prevent flooding.
Re-naturalizing the creek will increase habitat for fish, birds, insects and aquatic creatures while providing more space for the creek to spread out during spring runoff without cresting the dikes and flooding adjacent lands, he explained.
The popular Mission Creek Greenway would just be re-routed to the new, set-back dikes so walkers, runners and riders would actually gain a longer trail.
The creek drains the largest watershed within the Okanagan Basin and provides a quarter of the water that flows into Okanagan Lake, but where the main channel was historically 60 to 80 metres wide and 30 kilometres long through the city, it is currently about 31 metres across and just 11 kilometres long.
The parcel the minister toured will be a pilot project to show what can be achieved.
The MCRI project involves the city, regional district, province and federal government as well as the Central Okanagan Land Trust, Friends of Mission Creek, Okanagan Nation Alliance and Westbank First Nation.
Details are on the website at: www.missioncreek.ca