A small-scale version of the Roger Creek bridge could happen after all, if West Coast Aquatic gets their way.
According to WCA representative Sheena Falconer, Roger Creek is the largest salmon stream in Port Alberni.
“Roger Creek is a vital part of our community and a jewel in the middle of our town,” said Falconer. “Our goal is to bring back the salmon to the Roger Creek so that our children and grandchildren can have the joy of watching the salmon cycle.”
Last summer, students helped WCA map out the part of Roger Creek near 10th Avenue to determine the feasibility of an off-channel habitat project for salmon. WCA has also partnered with the city to perform water quality tests in the area.
The main salmon population in Roger Creek is within the 8.5 km stretch inside city limits.
“We see the potential for a 1,500 metres squared off-channel pond network that would be about 300 metres long and five metres wide. The pools would support coho, cutthroat and other fish species as well as amphibians, birds and mammals,” Falconer said.
WCA has recently built similar habitat projects out at Cherry Creek and at Kitsuksis Creek by McLean Mill.
“At 10th Avenue there is a location when an existing trail and water line service road enter the creek,” Falconer said, adding that “there is an opportunity to build a footbridge across the creek” at that spot. The exact location will be determined by engineering surveys carried out in the winter.
The footbridge that WCA is hoping to install would be similar to the one recently installed by the city across Kitsuksis Creek adjacent to the Gertrude Street vehicle bridge. That bridge was made out of a recycled fish farm float at a cost of $250,000.
The city has several unused footbridges that would fit the bill, five stored at the Fall Fairgrounds and the rest at the Anderson site yard. One bridge has already been set aside to replace a wooden bridge removed several years ago from the lower section of the Dry Creek ravine.
WCA has $140,000 in grant money from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnership Program. However, the grant relies on the city’s capital funding of $100,000 for Roger Creek ravine trail development and the donation of one of the city’s unused footbridges.