Volunteers hard at work on restoration at North Saanich park

Volunteers have been working to restore Dominion Brook Park to its former glory.

Volunteers help clean out a ravine within Dominion Brook Park in North Saanich.

Volunteers have been working to restore Dominion Brook Park to its former glory.

Falling into disrepair in the 1980s when the federal government decided they didn’t want anything to do with it, some neighbours decided in the early 2000s that they wanted to form a group to restore it.

For the last 15 years, they took out lots of invasive plants, working to improve the park.

Volunteers are planting 1,000 Deer ferns (Blechnum spicant) and after years of planning and fundraising, the Friends of Dominion Brook Park Society are happy to announce the beginning of ‘on the ground’ restoration work of the Jewel of the Park, the Rhodo Ravine.

Board member and volunteer, Ed Johnson said that under a stewardship agreement between the federal government, the District of North Saanich and the Friends Society, work began in 2001 to rejuvenate the much neglected park.

He said for the Ravine restoration, there were many permits and studies required before work could begin.

The work began in September.

With grants and donations from supporters, the Society was able to stabilize and reline a brook through the ravine with a geo-modular vegetative wall system (bags with a growing medium) and riffle and weir the stream bed to allow the planting of the Deer ferns.

There are around a dozen volunteers every Wednesday morning who plant, weed and apply bark mulch and rake up leaves. The last planting session was last week.

“We see an increasing use of the park all the time and we try to get the word out,”Johnson said.

He said many people, including himself, who have lived in the area for years, drove by the park, looking at the sign and thinking that’s all there was along the road. Dominion Brook Park is actually 17 acres past the sign  and down the hill.

He added a lot of the time people come in, trampling over plants, not staying on the trails.

“We intend to do something on the order of maybe using QR codes so that people can use their phones and go through the park and identify and learn a little about each plant as they’re looking at it,” he said.

The website (dominionbrookpark.ca) will also include what is currently blooming or what’s blooming in the season.

Johnson said the next stage, as monies become available, will be constructing pathways for public access and re-establishing the Rhodo collection with companion plantings.

— with files from Ed Johnson, Friends of Dominion Brook Park