It could have been a huge set back for volunteers with the Nile Creek Enhancement Society (NCES) but a break-in at their salmon hatchery in Bowser back in February has a positive ending.
NCES President Ken Kirkby said they were all shocked and saddened after discovering the burglary.
When someone picked the lock on the building that houses the incubators and made off with over $2,000 worth of specialized equipment it could have spelled disaster for the group that has been doing important habitat restoration work on Nile Creek.
Thieves made off with generators, power washers and all sorts of tools needed to operate the hatchery and with thousands of fish eggs still maturing, the group had to scramble to replace all the items that were stolen.
Kirkby said they had to dip into their own pockets to replace the stolen equipment which wasn’t insured.
“We are not insured because the cost of insurance once you are off the main route is staggering,” he admitted.
The hit on the groups pocket book could have been devastating but thanks to the community stepping up that wasn’t the case.
Kirkby said when The News reported the break-in the story generated quite a bit of interest in the work the society does and as a result they have been receiving donations from all over Vancouver Island.
“In every negative bad story a good story is hiding but you have to look for it some times. After your article came out it was the opening salvo that got everyone else on board,” admitted Kirkby.
He said they have received several phone calls, e-mails, and letters of support from one end of the Island to the other.
“In some of those letters there were people who said well here is $500…hope it helps.”
He said Scott Plastics in Sidney sent them a lovely letter and financial support.
Other area businesses also pitched in with money and supplies.
“Jim Grant, who just lives up the road, is a huge scrap metal dealer and he invited us over to his place and said he had all kinds of stuff we could take … and we did,” said Kirkby, who added, “Windsor Plywood said to bring your bucket list down, so we got some stuff there.”
He said they got letters from people they have never heard from before.
“This is some good news about Nile Creek,” Kirkby said. “Out of a disappointing event came a happy conclusion.”
Kirkby said the community reacted in a strong positive way to their efforts, which have brought the Pink salmon back to the creek in historical numbers.
He said their projects have grown from initially restoring the side channels in Nile Creek.
“The restoration is from the top of the mountain to the sea. We have taken on six more rivers and are doing work in the estuaries as well as the ocean.”
He said they are a volunteer group with only one paid position and money for the work their projects is generated through fundraising.
One of the groups biggest financial contribution comes from an annual event that attracts people from all over Canada and the United States.
Paintings by the Numbers is being held on April 14 and the event is an opportunity for people to get their hands on beautiful, original artwork with the proceeds going to the NCES cause.
The fourth annual wine and hors d’oeuvres art work raffle takes place at the Lighthouse Community Centre. Each ticket holders name will be drawn at random giving them a choice of a professional painting by well known artists including Ken Kirkby, Brian Buckrell and Cindy Mawle.
Tickets are $500 each and limited to 50 of the 60 works donated. Ticket holders are guaranteed one of the original paintings. A preview of the paintings will happen from 3 to 4 p.m. and the draw will commence at 4:15 p.m.
Kirkby said tickets sell quickly because the paintings are worth $1200 to $4000.
For tickets contact 250-757-8775 or 250-757-8597 or email email@example.com.