Video: Bowker Creek restoration continues
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Video: Bowker Creek restoration continues

Ongoing efforts to improve the health of a highly urbanized watershed

Oak Bay High School students were at Bowker Creek last Friday, working on a collaborative restoration project with the CRD’s Bowker Creek Initiative and the Greater Victoria Green Team. The group is working on restoring the section of Bowker Creek in behind Oak Bay High by removing blackberries, willow dock, thistle, morning glory, and other invasive species and replanting the area with native shrubs, trees and ground cover.

The Oak Bay High students involved are part of the Science 9 Discovery Class, taught by Derek Shrubsole.

“Part of our focus for this class is to get outside and do more place-based, project-based learning,” says Shrubsole. “The students have been out here for the last couple months looking at what native plants are here, what non-native plants have moved in, looking at the water quality of the creek – all part of getting a sense for the health of Bowker Creek and what they can do to help make it healthy.”

The CRD Bowker Creek Initiative has been working closely with Oak Bay High and its students in creating the restoration plan – from developing curriculum, to the design of the space. The CRD created the space based on a sketch done by one of the students.

“They now deliver curriculum which is really focused on the creek and monitoring,” says Jody Watson, chair of CRD’s Bowker Creek Initiative. “The students were also involved in creating the design. So the students and the school have been intimately involved from the start and now that it is part of their curriculum the hope is that they will continue to do vegetation monitoring, water quality monitoring and really learn about creeks – especially urban creeks and the things that affect them. As they go through life, they will be more knowledgeable about that and they will share that with their friends and neighbours.”

Oak Bay High also sees it as an asset for the school.

“The importance of the project was looking at howto make this a part of the school itself, an extension of the classes inside. To come outside and have this wonderful classroom space, this wonderful learning area,” says Shrubsole.

The Greater Victoria Green Team, who collaborated on the work party, is an environmental volunteer program made up of people from across Greater Victoria who help restore the local environment.

“Our program is focused on collaboration and getting people outside helping the environment,” says Amanda Evans, program manager for Greater Victoria Green Team. “We run about 60 different activities a year, right across from North Saanich to Sooke, helping out with different projects and linking volunteers to various restoration projects. We get to learn from different experts and take part in making our region beautiful.”

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