The ongoing rejuvenation of Bowker Creek continued on Sunday, this time with the unveiling of a new informational sign along the greenway between Hampshire Road and St. Ann Street.
The sign is one of a series created by the Capital Regional District to serve as a reminder that Bowker Creek is an important piece of the local ecosystem, said Rick Marshall of the Community Association of Oak Bay, who helped organize the event.
“The sign is a permanent installation that provides information about the creek. It’s important for its ecological and climate role, and its aesthetic, in that section, as Bowker is one of the nicest greenways along the entire creek,” Marshall said.
When colonial settlers first established farms in the area they called it the Thames, because it was the biggest flowing waterway around. Later, it was officially named after John Sylvester Bowker (son-in-law of John Tod) who had a farm next to it.
There is a similar Bowker information sign between Oak Bay Recreation Centre and Oak Bay High School, and another at the headwaters of Bowker, next to the University Club at the University of Victoria.
Seen as a pesky inconvenience to development, the creek was enclosed in cement pipes and culverts and today 2.9-kilometres of the 7.9 km creek are above ground. It’s therefore acted like a giant collector for storm drains for most of the last century, just as Colquitz has for run-off from Saanich, and Douglas Creek has for run-off from Gordon Head
Hence, the 100-year-plan to restore as much of Bowker Creek as possible to being a natural stream, including its tributaries and wetland areas that once nurtured fish and wildlife, even coho and chum salmon.
The goal of the Bowker 100-year plan is to minimize the polluted run-off that enters the creek from storm drains with the introduction of roadside rain swells and creekside vegetation. The Bowker Creek watershed itself is 1,028 hectares large and includes sections of Oak Bay, Victoria and Saanich, reaching all the way up the Shelbourne corridor to the University of Victoria.
All three aforementioned municipalities endorsed the Bowker Creek Initiative 100-year plan back in 2011 and 2012.