Penticton Creek restoration

Newly restored creek banks are taking shape along Penticton Creek, as the first restoration project for Penticton Creek hits the halfway point this week.

Construction started Aug. 4, an important milestone in Penticton Creek restoration as this showcase project was designed to demonstrate what creek restoration can look like. Project goals include restoring fish habitat, maintaining flood protection and stabilizing creek banks.

“We are so pleased to see the phenomenal progress on this project, as a huge first step in making Penticton Creek more sustainable,” said Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. “The City of Penticton is grateful for the tremendous support of our partners in this initiative, including the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation - their financial support has really made this project possible.”

Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation Board member Ian McGregor sees the Penticton Creek project as a potential showcase for future stream restoration projects in the Okanagan. “Restoring historically productive kokanee streams is a major component of the Okanagan Lake Action Plan,” said McGregor. “It’s great to see the City of Penticton taking the lead on a project that will benefit fish populations while simultaneously addressing the needs of Penticton residents.”

Background

This sample project includes a small section (80 metres) of Penticton Creek upstream from the Ellis Street Bridge. This site was chosen to substantially improve fish habitat, as well as address severe maintenance issues while showing the community the transformation in a visible area.

The Penticton Creek restoration showcase project is happening in July and August when fish are not present or spawning in the creek. By fall, this 80-metre section will be more fish-friendly, with a wider bed and new banks that still protect neighbouring properties from flood.

Flood protection

In response to earlier flooding, Council in the 1950s took several steps to protect private property, including physical flood control measures such as the “shot concrete” sprayed along the banks upstream from Ellis Street bridge. This channel material is eroding badly, causing maintenance challenges.

Designing a creek bed that safely moves water through the area is important for flood protection.  The design factors in 1-in-200-year flood levels, based on international standards.

Fish habitat enhancement

The anticipated impact of the showcase project for Penticton Creek restoration are:

  • Improved habitat for Kokanee spawner migration
  • Improved habitat for Rainbow Trout adult migration
  • Development of habitat for Rainbow Trout juvenile (fry/parr) rearing
  • Potential for Rainbow Trout and Kokanee spawning habitat

Trees and special vegetation

  • Trees within the creek can cause problems with flood protection, as it can cause additional debris during a high runoff. A planting program is being investigated to help native species thrive.
  • Invasive species can be found in many areas of the community, and this restoration project will see the removal of non-native plants.

Creek features

There is a great deal of science behind creek design. Some terms for creek features include:

  • Riffle: These are shallow, high-velocity sections of stream that provide areas for fish food production, rearing and migration. Fish can also hide from predators in riffles.
  • Pool: These are deeper sections of creek where fish can rest on their journey up the stream, and provide important rearing habitat for juvenile and adult Rainbow Trout.
  • Large rocks: These create eddies that help with fish migration, provide holding areas for fish, hiding areas from predators and enhance flood protection.

Designing a creek bed 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. Fish species that stand to benefit from improved habitat include Kokanee and Rainbow Trout.

For more details, check out the Penticton Creek restoration project page.

Public access

The public is invited to check out Penticton Creek restoration in action. The Ellis Street bridge offers an excellent vantage point to watch crews undergo work.

Thanks to our partners

The Penticton Creek restoration project would not have happened without the funding and contributions of several agencies: Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Province of B.C., Penticton Indian Band, South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program, Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C., Okanagan Nation Alliance, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Penticton Flyfishers and Downtown Penticton Association.