Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Still Creek restoration aims to bring back salmon for good

BY EMILY DOYLE-YAMAGUCHI

Still Creek made history in 2012 when salmon defied the odds to navigate deep within the boundaries of Metro Vancouver and spawned here for the first time in over 80 years.

This breakthrough, hailed as a small but iconic victory for the entire region, proved what many thought impossible: even partially buried waterways with an intensive urban-industrial history can be recovered to the point where a variety of life returns. But can this hopeful glimmer of salmon be encouraged to stay for good?

Recent water quality improvements in Still Creek, and the addition of fish ladders that help make passage possible, have enabled a small group of chum salmon to reappear in their historic breeding grounds in East Vancouver. These resilient fish made a harrowing journey in the dark beneath major roadways to achieve their destination.

Two laneways - Still Creek

A tale of two laneways: Wall-to-wall asphalt (top photo) concentrates water and pollutants in the watershed, raises water temperature to levels that threaten fish survival, and increases the risk of flooding and pollution of Still Creek and the neighbourhoods that form the watershed. The materials used in the country lane (bottom photo) allow water to filter into the ground and move through soil, resulting in a low risk of flooding and cool water, which is vital for salmon survival, reaching Still Creek. The grass and other plants growing here also help to keep the environment cooler and provide food and habitat for birds and insects. Photos by Herb Hammond, Silva Forest Foundation

Now a bold vision is emerging to shift from a piecemeal to a systematic restoration of the Still Creek watershed, which is required to make a suitable home for an ongoing, and increasing, salmon population in the future.

What is a watershed?
A watershed is a drainage basin, like your bathroom sink, where water collects from rain and snow, and drains into a central location—in this case, Still Creek. The Still Creek watershed is part of the larger Brunette River watershed, which is part of an even bigger Fraser River watershed, which connects to the global watershed through the Pacific Ocean.

Salmon travel to Still Creek from the ocean by first swimming through the Fraser River, then up the Brunette River and into Burnaby Lake. The boundary of a watershed is defined by the shape of the landscape—high points mark the boundaries between different watersheds. Big watersheds are made up of many smaller watersheds.

What will restoration look like?
Much of the watershed’s natural water flow has been significantly modified with urban development. Restoring natural water flow as much as possible will be an important part of restoring the watershed—from improving water quality for salmon to providing habitat for native songbirds.

We can do this by changing impermeable surfaces to permeable surfaces, such as rain gardens and bioswales, to collect water and permit it to drain into the soil at a more natural pace. Multi-layered trees and shrubs act like a leaky umbrella in a rainstorm, allowing the water to drain into the soil slowly and tempering the impact of extreme storms that accompany climate change. This “green infrastructure” works better than storm water pipes to manage rainwater.

Who is running the project and how can I get involved?
The Still Moon Arts Society, Silva Forest Foundation, Simon Fraser University, the Greenest City Fund and the Charles & Lucille Flavelle Family Fund held at the Vancouver Foundation have teamed up to provide the science, funding and community vision that are required to restore the ecological health of Still Creek.

Working with residents, students, artists and the City of Vancouver, the project partners are developing a watershed-wide restoration plan that ranges from collaborating with local schools and “rewilding” city parks, to creating rain gardens and mini-rainforests in private yards.

To learn more about local restoration
Join the email list for updates and event info mail@stillmoon.org. Follow @stillmoonarts and on Facebook. Come to a workshop and tell Still Moon what you know about the watershed and learn about important restoration efforts you can initiate on your own property. Workshop information will be announced in the fall.

Emily Doyle-Yamaguchi is the project coordinator for the Still Creek ecosystem-based restoration plan. She may be reached at emily@silvafor.org.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Songs for the salmon! Get ready for the Renfrew Ravine Harvest Moon Festival 2016

Saturday, September 17

Turtle Bliss Gamelan

Turtle Bliss Gamelan playing with lanterns by Naomi Singer. Photo by Zora Feren

BY LUCAS CHAN

For months Still Moon Arts Society has been preparing for the 14th annual Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival, held this year on Saturday, September 17.

The moon festival celebrates the nature and beauty of Renfrew Ravine and Still Creek. For many decades the ravine was abandoned by the salmon due to the polluted water and ecosystems caused by the neglect of this natural space. But the salmon have been returning to spawn in our community since 2012, thanks to the hard work of many community stewards and local governments collaborating to restore health of the stream and the ecosystem.

On the Wild Salmon Caravan in June, youth from Still Moon Arts were honoured to join in singing many First Nations songs for the salmon all along the Fraser River. Still Moon wants to extend the idea to our community that we, too, can have songs for the salmon as yet another way of caring for our local stream, Still Creek.

Make your own lantern

The month of September will be busy in preparation for the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival to be held at Slocan Park and Renfrew Park. You are welcome to come out to Slocan Hall and make a lantern to carry in the parade:

  • Tuesday and Wednesday, September 6 and 7: Globe lanterns, 4–8 pm
  • Thursday and Friday, September 8 and 9: Salmon lanterns, 4–8 pm
  • Saturday and Sunday, September 10 and 11: Advanced Sculptural Lantern Making 10 am–1 pm
  • Monday and Tuesday, September 12 and 13: Globe lanterns, 4–8 pm
  • Wednesday and Thursday, September 14 and 15: Glass jar lanterns, 4–8 pm

The big day

Moon Fest Fireworks

Fireworks finale with metal fence by Heather Jones. Photo by Zora Feren

Festival day, Saturday, Sept ember 17, consists of two main components that take place at Slocan Park and Renfrew Park.

At Slocan Park from 4–7 pm there will be a Harvest Fair to showcase community harvests alongside family-friendly activities, community booths and musical performances.

At 7:15 pm a twilight lantern procession will lead the community from Slocan Park to Renfrew Park along the edge of the ravine.

At Renfrew Park you are guaranteed to be wowed by the community and artist made lanterns decorating the site to highlight the natural beauty of Still Creek. There will be refreshments, activities, interactive local art pieces as well as a fireworks finale to bring the night to a close.

More ravine celebrations

Still Moon Arts will end the month with an Equinox labyrinth walk on Thursday, September 22 and a World Rivers Day art and water celebration on Sunday, September 25.

Still Moon Arts Society is also in the process of putting together Still Creek Stories, a collection of stories from the community that share their stories and experiences in the ravine. These stories will be compiled into an art book as a representation of the memories and hopes of what Still Creek was in the past, is in the present, and hopefully will be in the future. Pre-orders will be available at the Renfrew Park portion of the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival on September 17!

For more information find Still Moon Arts on Facebook as Still Moon Arts Society and on Twitter and Instagram as stillmoonarts.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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September 2016 issue of RCC News is here

This issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

RCC News September 2016Get your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Songs for the salmon! Get ready for Moon Fest!
  • Still Creek restoration
  • Tips to start the school year right
  • Youth share stories at annual food gathering
  • Fire rips through Carleton
  • PLUS Collingwood Neighbourhood House fall recreation guide

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the October 2016 issue is September 10. You are welcome to submit a story from 300 to 400 words. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.