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North Van students learn waterway restoration

November 19, 2018

​By Maria Rantanen, North Shore News

Larson Streamkeepers.jpg

Larson Elementary students have a look at a display showcasing the growth and development of salmon. Students from the North Vancouver school were recently given a tour by North Shore Streamkeepers to see the salmon enhancement work done at MacKay Creek. Photo by Paul McGrath, North Shore News

Larson Elementary students in Grade 5, 6 and 7 saw otters going after salmon, trees mulched on by beavers and neon green glowing moss at a Coho Discovery Day workshop along MacKay Creek last week while restoration and infrastructure work continued along the urban waterway.

Throughout the month of November and into early December, North Vancouver classes are coming to learn about stream restoration and work being done to revitalize water courses on the North Shore.

Kessa Weatherly, a Grade 5 student at Larson Elementary, said she learned a lot about salmon, but also about trees and animals during their educational walk along McKay Creek, as well as the importance of forests.

“(The forest) gives oxygen and animals hide in there – it’s a good habitat,” she said.

Ron Den Daas with North Shore Streamkeepers and the Coho Society said the workshops with students showcase how the environment is doing despite being located next to one of the largest shipbuilding sites in the country. 

The restoration work on MacKay Creek comes after 150 years of degradation from logging, heavy industry and urban development.

The two North Vancouver municipalities started the MacKay Creek Flood Protection and Enhancement project this September, funded through federal and provincial programs, Emergency Management BC and Build Canada, to the tune of $1.65 million and with some trail improvements paid for by TransLink.

Doug Dwantston of North Shore Streamkeepers point some salmon spawning beds in MacKay Creek to students from Larson Elementary - photo Paul McGrath, North Shore News

While the salmon still live in the creek, efforts are being made to revitalize it and increase the number of fish, said Doug Swanston, a marine biologist who was working with the Larson Elementary students last Wednesday.

At the workshop, Burt Huxley, a Grade 6 student, said he learned about glowing neon green moss that stays moist because it grows in the shade, giving it its unique colour, as well as about keeping the natural surroundings clean.

“It’s really important to help the environment because if you try to block natural water pools, it will make pollution,” he said.

Lucas Cowan, who is in Grade 6, joined his classmates on the Discovery Day last week, which took the class on a walking tour along the creek down to Burrard Inlet.

“I learned that if you throw garbage in the water, you’ll pollute it,” he said after the walk.

The flood protection project from 3rd Street to Marine Drive along the creek includes replacing the footbridge at Hamilton Avenue in order to improve the route for pedestrians and cyclists, construction of a multi-use path, creation of a secondary creek channel in Hyak Park, converting Mackay Road into a one-way street from Roosevelt to Churchill in order to increase flood protection as well as some drainage improvements and the replacement of a sewer main.

Parking will be reduced on MacKay between Churchill and Roosevelt, and on MacKay between 1st and 3rd avenues.

A grant from TransLink will be used to add sections of the walking and cycling path so it extends to 1st Avenue and to Marine.

The work is expected to be finished in spring 2019.