Cutthroat trout and Coho salmon can now get to the upper reaches of Tod Creek with the creation of a natural fish ladder at Butchart Gardens’ dam.
The ladder, or fishway, was completed earlier this month and was paid for by Butchart Gardens, although they are not releasing the dollar amount. General manager Dave Cowan says they worked with the Peninsula Streams Society, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, local First Nations and B.C. Parks to get the work done in a narrow window of opportunity.
“The work is complete now and took about six weeks,” Cowan said. “It’s a more natural channel and in a short time it will be difficult to tell it is man-made.”
Biologist and Peninsula Streams’ Executive Director Ian Bruce said the ladder gives fish a way to reach spawning areas higher in the creek.
“Fish were able to get by the dam, but not easily,” Bruce said. “This will help make it easier.”
Peninsula Streams has been working along Tod Creek for years, he continued, helping restore habitat — something they plan to continue upstream, now that fish can better reach those spawning grounds.
Bruce added the Society and other stewardship groups had been trying to get something like this done on the creek for years and it took getting Butchart Gardens on board to make it happen.
The area is within the Gowlland Tod Provincial Park, however the area around the dam is held by Butchart Gardens. Its use dates back to the early 1900s, when the area was home to the township of Tod Inlet and a limestone quarry. Today, Butchart Gardens uses the dam as a water source for its flowers and trees.
With the fishway complete, Bruce said it will give Peninsula Streams volunteers the opportunity to conduct better fish counts — as trout and salmon travel to and from the spawning area upstream. Already, he said, fish have been seen using the new route through the dam.
Cowan said the cost of the project was “substantial,” adding they were happy to work with community groups to make the area better.