District of Squamish officials recently completed a project that should help prevent future floods while creating important fish-rearing habitat in a nearby channel.
The Whittaker Slough flood box, a project funded by the Building Canada Fund’s Emergency Management B.C. Flood Protection Program, is part of an effort to upgrade the community’s aging flood-protection infrastructure, officials said in a statement.
The project, built at the outflow of a watercourse near the West Coast Railway Heritage Park, involved the installation of a pipe through the dike and the replacement of a leaking flood box, officials said.
Before the upgrade, the flood box included a conventional flap gate that was normally closed, providing an impediment to fish passage from the river to the slough. The new flood box uses inflatable buoys that enable the gate to open and close in response to water levels, allowing fish to pass through.
“It’s wonderful that we’re receiving double the benefits from this project,” said Squamish Mayor Rob Kirkham, who offered thanks to the federal and provincial governments for their contributions. “It’s encouraging to see the restoration of important fish, and in particular salmon habitat that has declined over the years due to pressure on the Squamish River watershed. We have a responsibility to work towards protection and enhancement at every possible opportunity.”
“The new flap gate, while perhaps less glamorous than a new spawning channel, will allow fish to access areas behind the dike that had been previously cut off,” said biologist Mike Nelson, principal with Cascade Environmental Resource Group Ltd. “The use of this new technology will expand the range of rearing coho, in particular, into this backchannel habitat.”
Last year, the district received $442,200 in grant funding for flood management upgrade projects from the fund. The Stawamus River rip-rap upgrade, the Harris Slough pump station upgrade, and the installation of a water-level monitoring station at the Cheakamus River Bridge project components are now complete. Upgrades to the Brackendale and North Yards dikes are nearing completion, with final road capping to be laid once weather improves, officials said.