Mission Creek restoration initiative getting underway

“Residents shouldn’t be concerned when they see heavy equipment working along the creek...”

  • Thu Oct 15th, 2015 5:00pm
  • News

As the Mission Creek restoration project moves into its next phase there will be a few adjustments for the community to get used to.

First, the south side of the Mission Creek Greenway between Casorso Road and Gordon Drive will be closed until the project is complete next year. This will  ensure residents’ safety while giving contractors unrestricted access to the construction site. The closure is expected to be implemented during the week of Oct 19 and extend until project completion, possibly March, 2016. The Greenway on the north side of the creek will remain open during construction.

Second, some trees and vegetation adjacent to the creek will be removed over the next few weeks to make way for dike reconstruction that will start in November. Tree removal specialists―guided by recent MCRI tree assessment outcomes―will work with project engineer Don Dobson to save trees and vegetation wherever possible.

“Residents shouldn’t be concerned when they see heavy equipment working along the creek,” said Dobson. “Every effort will be made to save some large cottonwoods by retaining dike structure around their roots. Trees identified as hazardous will be removed or topped and left as stumps to enhance fish and wildlife habitat.

Trees that have to be fully removed will be stored with their root balls intact for future restoration work.

“Placed as downed trees in other locations, they become valuable assets that help rebuild natural habitat for fish and wildlife,” he said.

Dobson offered assurances to residents that all disturbed areas will be replanted with native vegetation once construction is complete next year. The new floodplains will also be planted, resulting in a major expansion of riparian area and associated plant life. Nature will then take its course and the restoration will evolve over time, ultimately providing a broad range of ecosystem benefits.

The Mission Creek Restoration Initiative (MCRI) is a multi-phase, multi-stakeholder partnership formed officially in 2008 to restore natural functions to the lower sections of Mission Creek. The primary goal is to restore fish and wildlife stocks and habitat. Complementary objectives are to conserve and expand biodiversity and species at risk, improve flood protection, and inspire and support community stewardship.

The Phase-1 project, which includes the section of creek between Casorso Road and Gordon Drive, has two major components. The first is realignment of the dike on the south side of the creek to renaturalize flow; the second is instream work to enhance fish and wildlife habitat. In preparation for Phase-1 work, properties along the creek were purchased and technical studies were undertaken to determine the creek’s geotechnical makeup and hydraulic capacity. A Baseline Biophysical Inventory was carried out over the last year to identify and quantify wildlife habitats and populations, and species at risk. Inventory outcomes are reflected in dike design, which was created with input from UBC Okanagan engineering students. Most recently, the dike realignment footprint was surveyed by City of Kelowna staff, and the tree assessment was completed. A few more construction-related activities will be undertaken over the next few weeks in preparation for dike reconstruction, which is being done with all the necessary approvals, permits and best practices to ensure environmental protection.