In small Vancouver Island communities like Qualicum Bay, neighbours depend on one another in times of need.
But a project to restore Nash Creek is taking that to a whole new level.
“It’s a community-driven project,” said John Hessels of Lewkowich Engineering, the designer of the project.
“It’s a good thing. I’m positive and hoping it’s gonna work out,” said neighbour Mark Smailes.
Qualicum Bay resident Richard Goldney planned and paid for the project that will help both his human neighbours from flooding and the salmon that have historically spawned there until it became clogged years ago.
“All up there are just fantastic spawning beds. I think we can increase the fish here dramatically,” said Goldney.
The Qualicum Bay man learned that there were solutions for Nash Creek, but that they had never been funded. He said that after hearing neighbours’ nightmare stories of flooding, he decided enough was enough.
“The more I looked into it, nobody seemed able to do it. But there was a report out by Trout Unlimited and Vancouver Island University that they couldn’t do it, these two government agencies, but a group or an individual could,” explained Goldney, adding. “I spent 30 years plus in the fishing business commercially, so I thought why don’t you do it.”
The mouth of Nash Creek is usually plugged by ocean tides bringing sand up higher than the river bottom. So Goldney found the needed study, got approval from six levels of government, then paid tens of thousands of dollars for the project to be done all before this fall’s rains arrive.
“The primary goal of this project was to allow for fish passage and to stop the flooding of the neighbours,” said Lewkowich. “So as soon as it starts raining and the high tides come, the fish will be able to go upstream and spawn per usual.
“And hopefully having it opened and fixed like this, we’ll get more salmon in there, and the flooding will be taken care of,” adds Smailes.
“We have everything out there that feeds on that, so it feeds into the chain. So I think it’s just a great, great thing,” said Goldney.