New fish hatchery almost complete

Now planning underway for stage two, visitor centre in Kanaka park

Sarah Davies

Sarah Davies

Part one, the smaller fish hatchery, is almost done, so now it’s on to the second part of realizing the dream of a stewardship centre to welcome the world and teach about how to save salmon.

“We’d like to have a Cadillac, but it looks like we’ll have a real nice Chevy,” said Ross Davies, with the Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society.

“It’s not as big as originally envisioned, but it will serve us just fine.”

Davies was referring to the Kanaka Creek Watershed Stewardship Centre – a million-dollar Metro Vancouver project that has had features such as a green roof removed from the plans in order to keep costs down.

Once built in Kanaka Creek Regional Park, at 256th Street and 117th Avenue, the centre will become a hands-on, educational facility for the entire Lower Mainland, where people can learn about nature and the watershed, participate in hatchery activities, play outdoors, hike, test water quality, and survey stream invertebrates with interpreters.

The stewardardship centre will be the second building in the park after the completion of the $300,000 fish hatchery in about a month. It replaces the crumbling Bell-Irving hatchery, which had to be torn down because of mold and other issues.

Opening of the new hatchery is planned for April 21, when KEEPS has its annual Goodbye Chums event and releases baby salmon into the creek.

The hatchery is a smaller building than the one it replaces, but viewer friendly.

Since the hatchery was built 30 years ago, about eight million young salmon have been hatched and released to restock Lower Mainland streams.

While the replacement of the hatchery was the priority in order to keep producing fish, there is less of a rush on for the stewardship centre, which could take until next year before construction begins.

“We’re going to get some funding in place first and then we’ll go.”

The stewardship centre will offer classroom and office space and will be used for Metro Vancouver recreational and nature programs, as well as KEEPS activities. The society has also talked with the District of Maple Ridge about recreation programs it could offer from the centre.

But Davies pointed out the two buildings are just parts of an overall reorganization of the site.

“It’s the headquarters to profile the whole watershed, not only just the hatchery site, but also Cliff Falls, the waterfront, everything.”

Wendy Dadalt, with Metro Vancouver parks, said small changes to the surrounding area will allow a greater variety of uses. Overnight camping could be organized for groups, which could increase the park’s attractiveness to people throughout the region.

Metro Vancouver parks is putting in half a million dollars for the entire project, the same amount as the Pacific Parklands Foundation.

The Pacific Salmon Foundation and KEEPS are also chipping in. Detailed designs should be ready by the summer, making it an easier task to fundraise for with specifics in place.

While the stewardship centre won’t have a green roof, other green technologies will be on display, such as stormwater control techniques, use of natural light and native vegetation in the landscape.

According to Metro Vancouver, more than 360,000 people visited Kanaka Creek Regional Park in 2010.

She pointed out several creeks in the Lower Mainland, such as in Spanish Banks in Kitsilano, use Kanaka fry for stocking purposes, which helps in fundraising.