Bowker Creek plan back before the public

Community asset redesign up for review, includes outdoor classroom, public viewing platform

The active restoration work on Bowker Creek near Oak Bay High could start next June.

“We’ve just finished the detailed design. We want the public to see what the design is and get some feedback, then we’ll make some tweaks and then next year we’ll actually do the construction,” said Jody Watson, chair the Bowker Creek Initiative. “We worked with the school board and got an additional 20 metres of land we could do work within. The school board enabled enough land that we would actually be able to do some restoration in there.”

They’re working within about 25 metres the entire length of the creek alongside the high school’s running track. The wall there will stay in place and restoration, as planned currently, would include vegetation planted to obscure the wall.

“That will also allow us to meander the creek,” Watson said. “We really wanted to make it a showcase that the residents of Oak Bay could be proud of.”

Construction would take place between June and September of next year. There’s a public open house tomorrow (Sept. 18) to get final feedback on the latest design.

The plans include a proposed outdoor classroom that’s “all about trying to get them back in touch with that creek,” Watson said. “I think the school as a whole and the students will take ownership of the creek.”

The other aspect is creating more inclusion for the community at large.

“It’s going to be such a community amenity. Currently with the design we’re looking at, there will be universal access to the creek,” Watson said. “There’s not a lot of places you can get right down to the creek.”

There are some areas in Saanich and Oak Bay where you can get to the shores but more than half of Bowker Creek runs through pipes, she explained. It was channelized in the 1960s and ‘70s when the area was developing.

“We’ve learned from that and now what we’re trying to do is create more of the proper watershed,” she said, noting Saanich, Victoria and the CRD are all on board. “We’ve been working almost 15 years on developing a management plan.”

This little segment, which could be complete by fall 2015, would achieve one of the short term actions.

“There will also be an area that is fairly heavily forested, or treed, that will show more what a healthy riparian should look like. Then right at the end, where the box culvert is (now) there will be a community space. You’ll be able to go on a little patio area and look down on the newly restored creek.”

The public open house is tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 18) at Oak Bay Recreation Centre, 1975 Bee St., from  6 to 8 p.m. with presentation at 7 p.m.