Armoring the banks of the Little Qualicum

The Ministry of Highways is taking action to ensure the Little Qualicum River doesn’t take out Highway 19A, but they’re doing it in an environmentally responsible way.

Excavators work to armor the bank of the Little Qualicum River to prevent the washout of Highway 19A.

Excavators work to armor the bank of the Little Qualicum River to prevent the washout of Highway 19A.

The Ministry of Highways is taking action to ensure the Little Qualicum River doesn’t take out Highway 19A, but they’re doing it in an environmentally responsible way.

Biologist Sean Wong is working with the Ministry of Transportation on the project, ensuring that continual scouring by the river keeps it flowing under the bridge, while at the same time improving fish habitat on the stretch of river.

“The river bank has been eroding on the Qualicum Beach side and if it continues to erode and laterally migrate, it will eventually hit the highway instead of flowing under the bridge,” Wong said. “That would present a public safety hazard.”

Storm events in 2009 and 2010 were seen as emergency events, sparking workers to place emergency rip-rap to protect the bridge. 

Wong said the ministry is now working on a more permanent solution.

“The long-term fix is to work along 200 metres of bank to stabilize it so it continues to flow under the bridge,” he said. 

“While we do this we are incorporating environmental features such as large woody debris that provides habitat, cover and complexity for coho or trout that hide in root masses.”

As well, he said, workers are excavating a historic flood channel to create an off-channel pond that will provide year-round habitat for fish.

“Coho salmon spend a full year in the river, so it’s important for juveniles to have a place where they can get out of the main flows and not be swept out,” Wong said. 

“The pond will have areas that are one and a half metres deep or deeper in the summer, so there will be nice cool water in it.”

Wong said he’s confident the stretch of river will have better fish habitat than it has currently, as the bank is fairly smooth and featureless as it stands.

“The bank doesn’t have much in the way of vegetation or features,” he said. “Fish like complexity. They like variations for cover. 

“The juveniles have a lot of predators to avoid, such as eagles, heron, kingfishers and mink.”

“A root mass will provide areas that break up the flow and provide protection from predators far better than a uniform bank.”

Indeed, he said the addition of woody debris and root balls can increase the productivity of an area by five-fold or more.

“We can enhance it further by planting native trees such as willows and dogwoods,” he said. “We just jam a branch into the ground and it will grow into a shrub.”

Wong said he expects the project, which began last week, to take about a month to complete — although that depends in part on river flows.

“We have the second highest snowpack on record and elevated runoff flows,” he said. “However, they’re dropping slowly and we can do other activities, such as the off-channel pond, which aren’t impacted by the flows.”

Wong said he has worked in consultation with the Qualicum First Nation to identify any archeological sites along the bank and is consulting with the local Streamkeepers group to ensure everyone is kept up to speed.

Streamkeepers spokesperson Faye Smith said she’s encouraged by Wong’s participation in the project.

“Sean is including as much fish habitat as possible, given that there are a lot of hard materials going in there,” Smith said. “We have worked with Sean and the Ministry of Transportation on projects before, particularly up at Whiskey Creek, a tributary of the Little Qualicum. It’s great when Sean can get involved with projects.”

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
VIDEO: Whiskey Creek gas station destroyed by fire after camper van explosion

Nine fire departments responded to the incident, no injuries reported

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

John Furlong told the Vancouver Board of Trade on Feb. 20, 2020 that he thinks the city could and should bid for the 2030 Winter Games. (CP photo)
A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read