Students from Oak Bay High’s Grade 9 science discovery class with their trivia wheel with facts about Bowker Creek. The class is the first to take over longterm restoration and maintenance of the portion of the creek behind the new school. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Oak Bay High students take over Bowker restoration

Students will lead restoration, maintenance for portion of Bowker Creek

The health of the Bowker Creek day-lighting initiative took another step this week as members of the Grade 9 Discovery class at Oak Bay High held an informational session on the importance of diverting toxins from the local watershed.

On Wednesday science teacher Derek Shrubsole and the Discovery class met with Oak Bay Couns. Andrew Appleton and Esther Paterson at the Bowker Creek outdoor classroom where students tested members of the CRD on their Bowker Creek trivia wheel (winners got an Oak Bay High temporary tattoo).

Did you know, there’s leeches in Bowker? Worry not, they’re rather small and not the kind to attach their bloodsucking ways on humans, says the wheel.

READ MORE: Weeds return to Bowker Creek

READ ALSO: Flash floods fill Bowker Crek during rainstorms

“As of today the stewardship of the creek is officially passed on to the school district and the school,” Shrubsole said. “Some of the science teachers are now talking about what else we can do to nurture the creek in the future.”

Now that the riparian area beside the creek – and behind Oak Bay High – has had the blackberries and other overgrown invasives removed, work is needed to give native plants a chance to grow. Though the creek is bordered on one side by the cement retaining wall holding up the Jack Wallace Memorial Track, the terraced slope on the high school side is now home to a rich variety of native plants, Shrubsole said.

The day-lighting of Bowker Creek is, of course, a priority of Oak Bay and Saanich, part of a 100-year commitment as guided by the Bowker Creek Initiative.

“The whole idea now is to continue pulling the invasives [which are reappearing] to allow the native plants a chance to compete,” Shrubsole said.

Students also plan to use what they call “moss paint” to create a mural on the cement wall that actually fosters the growth of the native moss.

“Moss is seed in the mixture with corn starch and the moss will actually grow into the shape,” said student Olivia Friesen. “Also, it’s otherwise harmless.”

With heavy rains filling storm drains and causing flash floods Bowker Creek is still a long way from – if ever – recovering but is on track with a new report from the Bowker Creek Initiative soon to identify priority sections to be day-lighted and restored, next.

travis.paterson@oakbaynews.com


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