For generations, Penticton Creek has been an important part of the community. The City is now partnering with groups to envision how a safe, healthy creek can be established for years to come.
Grant funding was secured in 2013 from the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund to develop a project plan over four years. The Penticton Creek Restoration Committee was struck with a variety of expertise in the area of flood protection, conservation and First Nations, to oversee a planning process to determine if restoration would be feasible. The first 2 years have been dedicated to study and assessment, and Year 3 is focused on the Penticton Creek showcase project in 2015.
- Flood protection: In response to a severe 1942 flood, Council in the 1950s took several steps to protect private property, including physical flood control measures. Years later, this infrastructure is eroding badly and doesn't meet up to today's standards for flood protection infrastructure.
- Restoring fish habitat: Penticton Creek was a very productive waterway for Kokanee and Rainbow Trout for Okanagan Lake. Flood protection measures in the 1950s were very detrimental to habitat. Modern building methods gives us the opportunity to balance the needs of fish habitat while protecting private property at the same time.
- Fix failing infrastructure: Sudden repairs to Penticton Creek are required each year as erosion washes away parts of the bank in certain areas. Unplanned works can be expensive, and do not address the root problems with a channelized creek.
A sample project is proposed for a small section (80 metres) of Penticton Creek upstream from the Ellis Street Bridge. This site was chosen to address severe maintenance issues, show the community the transformation in a visible area and potentially have a substantial improvement of fish habitat. This is supported by grant funding from several sources, including the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund (HCTF) and Recreational Fishery Conservation Partnership Program.
Science behind flood protection
Here are some key elements of creek design, and why they are used in certain areas:
- What's rip-rap? This is a layer of various-sized angular rocks that prevent erosion along the banks and slow down water speeds. It can adjust to the shape of the bank and allows for native vegetation growth. It's easy to install and repair, has a natural appearance and does not harm the environment.
- What's river rock? This is a smooth rock that allows water to quickly pass over or through. It is an important component to fish habitat and beneficial for key flood protection areas.
- Is special vegetation needed? Yes, a planting program will be investigated so native species can thrive. Invasive species will have to be removed, and trees may need to be relocated to ensure there isn't additional debris during a high runoff.
Balancing protection and fish habitat
Designing a creekbed that safely moves water through the area is important for flood protection, and this has to be considered while balancing elements that create good fish habitat – rearing areas (resting, hiding and feeding zones), spawning grounds, and minimizing velocity and elevation barriers to migration.
- What's a riffle? These are shallow, high-velocity sections of stream that provide important areas for fish food production, rearing and migration. Fish can also hide from predators in riffles.
- What's a pool? These are deeper sections where fish and rest on their journey up the stream, and provide important rearing habitat for juvenile and adult Rainbow Trout.
- What do large rocks do? These create eddies that help with fish migration, provide holding areas for fish, hiding areas from predators, and enhance flood protection.
Timelines and next steps
The contract to undertake work will go to tender early in the summer, and construction slated for July and August - before kokanee spawning season begins. Monitoring of the project will be an important task in the fourth year of the planning process, and master plan work for the entire length of Penticton Creek will be included for 2016 budget consideration.
Want to learn more?
Check out the Council report [PDF - 780 KB] for detailed information around the 2015 Showcase Project. A history of information is also available in the Document Centre. Have questions? Contact Engineering at 250-490-2500.