"Committed to the restoration of wild Pacific salmon in mid Vancouver
Island watersheds through habitat restoration and community engagement"
"Committed to the restoration of wild Pacific salmon in mid Vancouver
Island watersheds through habitat restoration and community engagement"


Water Symposium Rocks Parksville

“Parksville 2019 demonstrated that a group of 200 biologists, engineers, planners, streamkeepers, politicians, administrators, and others, all with different backgrounds and responsibilities, can share a common learning experience and agree on strategies for water stewardship and stream restoration.” These were the words of John Finnie, the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) former General Manager for Regional and Community Utilities, at the second annual Vancouver Island Water Stewardship Symposium held in Parksville,  April 2, 3 and 4.




 Delegates came from far and wide – from Sooke north to Port McNeill; from Metro Vancouver east to Alberta; and from south of the border (Washington State, Virginia and Mississippi). Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne opened the Symposium with a welcome to delegates to the three-day event, co-hosted by the Partnership for Water Sustainability, Nanaimo & Area Land Trust and the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES).




Dave Derrick - photo by David Mackenzie



Last year’s symposium, held in Nanaimo, explained how land development using drainage systems that send rainfall straight off the land into creeks and rivers disrupts the natural flow and infiltration patterns of water on our landscape. The consequences of this disruption are more erosion and flooding, very low water levels in summer, and loss of aquatic habitat. The problem will worsen with climate change.

At this year’s symposium, delegates learned how communities can apply science-based understanding to restore the natural water balance, and about local government initiatives that are ‘getting it right’ and moving along pathways that lead to restorative land development. The restoration stories of Bowker Creek in the urban heart of the Capital Region and Brooklyn Creek in the suburban Comox Valley demonstrate how partnerships between local governments and community stewards result in success on the ground where it matters.

Dave Derrick of Mississippi (above photo), a stream restoration innovator and formerly with the US Army Corps of Engineers, conducted a workshop built around a field lecture in Shelly Creek Park. He stated, “The stability of the Shelly watercourse has been compromised by land use activities in the surrounding creekshed… why would you further damage the creek to get access [for restoration in hard to reach sections] when the real solution lies in fixing the surrounding landscape where the problems are actually created?” His distinct southern accent added intrigue to his words - oo la la! 

“The Symposium has provided a huge boost to MVIHES, in our efforts to draw attention to our ‘watershed health depends on you’ program, whether it is Shelly Creek water balance restoration or future monitoring of Englishman River watershed health,” added Peter Law, MVIHES President.

Julie Pisani, Coordinator of the RDN’s Drinking Water and Watershed Protection program (DWWP), led a community engagement session for input towards an actionable vision for achieving water sustainability in the second decade of the DWWP program, with its Action Plan being updated this year. 

WaterSymposium1WaterSymposium2 WaterSymposium4





 Twenty students with the Master of Community Planning Program at Vancouver Island University (VIU) served as table facilitators for the engagement session.   “The involvement of the students extended the collaboration across the generations, providing an opportunity for future leaders and planners to be involved in the discussions.” 


StormCunninghamOn the evening of April 3, Storm Cunningham gave an inspiring and informative talk on the strategies used by communities who have revitalized their neighbourhoods and economies by restoring abandoned and deteriorating infrastruture (such as railway bridges and buildings)  and remorphed them into facitilies needed for communties to thrive. Storm is from Washington D.C. and the author of "The Restoration Economy", "reWealth", and the soon to be released "RECONOMICS: The Path to Resilient Prosperity".  On the last day of the symposium he gave a presentation on how applying the same strategies to land development can lead to restoration of the natural hydrology of creeks and aquifers: by decreasing our destructive footprint while increasing our restorative footprint.  “The goal of making the world ‘less worse’ does not go far enough. Rather, we have it within our power to undo previous damage and make the world better."

Sponsors of the Second Annual Vancouver Island Water Stewardship Symposium

pwslogo logo2xgov3 bc logoRDNlogonaltlogo



 PSFlogomvihes NEWLOGO

DFO Logo 

Shelly Creek Neighbourhood Planting Party

ShelllyCreekPlantingOn March 30, twenty-three volunteers gathered on Hamilton Road in Parksville to plant 244 ferns and shrubs along the banks of Shelly Creek. Twelve of those folks live beside or near the creek and wanted to do their part in conserving Shelly Creek and its fish populations, a great example of local residents getting involved with their neighbourhood creek. Other volunteers were with the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES), Arrowsmith Naturalists, Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers, and even a resident of Nanaimo. The group was led by Peter Law of MVIHES.


The section of creek chosen for planting is habitat for a resident CTShellyParkpopulation of Cutthroat Trout. 





The area of land beside a creek is called the "Riparian Zone". Sword ferns, red osier dogwood, salmonberry, thimbleberry, nootka rose and snowberry were planted in the Riparian Zone to provide shade during the warm summer months and keep the water at the cool temperatures the trout need to survive. The plants will also provide cover from predators and help stabilize the stream bank. Plus, some of the insects that crawl around on plants fall into the water and become food for the trout. The plants were purchased from Streamside Nurseries in Bowser who are great supporters of streamkeeper groups. 


                                                                                         Riparian Planting 101



First you dig a hole and when that doesn't work, use a pick axe











Add some bone meal and mulch.                                                Plant.

                                                                                                                                                  Water the little darlings, and voila.........



                                          It's great to see neighbours working together to conserve their local environment.

                                                                                  Many thanks to all the volunteers!

Thanks go out to the City of Parksville Parks Department for allowing us to work in Shelly Park. 

We acknowledge  the financial support of the Province of British Columbia.



Salmon Counts

 salmon1In early January 2019, MVIHES received the final “Bulletin of Salmon Escapement for all salmon species for the Strait of Georgia – South Coast for 2018”. In case you’re wondering about the term “Escapement”, salmon escapement is a DFO term for the number of salmon that do not get caught by commercial or recreational fisheries and return to their freshwater spawning habitat. Here is the estimated salmon spawning run size for the Englishman River by species.


Survey Type/Count Type

Count Conducted by

Date of Last Count

Number of Surveys


Peak Estimate

4 year Average

12 year Average

Periodic peak live plus dead























      *includes 43 jacks
    **includes 69 jacks

How do we get an Accurate Count of Salmon in our River?

Every fall, staff from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Stock Assessment Division for South Coast (Nanaimo) organize the count of Pacific Salmon spawners on the east coast of the Island (and, for that matter, all of BC). The Englishman River, like many other rivers on Vancouver Island, has been subject to counts of salmon since the 1940’s.

snorkelcount1The Englishman River does not have a fence (like Big Qualicum or Little Qualicum Rivers) where salmon can be counted upstream, resulting in a “total cumulative count” of spawners. Instead, a “partial quantitative assessment” of the river during the spawning period is conducted using snorkel surveys.

Surveys begin in early September, before Pink Salmon start to enter the river, and usually finish in late November. Sometimes the surveys are cut short due to dangerously high flows or murky conditions that seriously reduce visibility.



The surveys are done using a staff person from DFO Stock Assessment in Nanaimo, teamed up with snorkelers from the British Columbia Conservation Foundation. Snorkelers in dry suits swim a 4 km section of the river and count salmon by species, note their condition and whether they are spawning or holding in pools, and estimate the number of dead fish (carcasses). A note taker records this information after snorkelers have surveyed a pool or run in their section of river.



The goal is to swim the entire river ten times during the fall spawning season. Since the salmon accessible portion of the river is too long to swim in one day, it has been divided into three swim sections:

Section 1: Englishman Falls Park to Morrison Creek confluence (near the hatchery)
Section 2: Morrison Creek to Top Bridge Park
Section 3: Top Bridge Park to Plumber Road. (below the Orange Bridge)  

Surveys provide an estimate of seventy five to eighty percent of the number of fish in the river at the time of the survey. So, the number of fish counted is a “partial” estimate of the total fish in the river. This number is combined with the number of dead fish counted, to get an estimate of partial abundance.

When Do Salmon Enter the River?

snorkelcount3Pinks are first to enter the estuary in late August, holding in pools below the Orange Bridge. Moving slowly upstream, they can be seen in numbers up past Top Bridge Park, to Morrison Creek by the second week in September. Peak spawn for Pinks is 2nd or 3rd week in September.

Chinook also enter the river when flows in the river are very low in early September. By late September to early October, the peak of the run of Chinook have spawned in the mainstem of the river, mostly from Morrison Creek confluence downstream to Top Bridge Park.

Coho start to enter the river in late September, with a peak of the river count in late October. Coho move into South Englishman River and Center Creek throughout November, but no estimates of how many fish escape into tributaries is made.

Chum salmon begin to enter the river around Thanksgiving weekend and counts peak around the Remembrance Day holiday.

It is interesting to see the river is home to a small population of “river sockeye”. These fish swim up the river in early summer, and sit in the deeper pools in the upper river (like the falls pool below Englishman River Falls). The population is very small, and because they sit in the bottom of the deep pools, swim surveys do not get an accurate count (other than to say there are less than five fish in the river.)

Are the Salmon Runs in the river Wild or Hatchery Augmented?

For the past 15+ years, there has been a small hatchery on the river, at the top of the Clay Young sidechannel. This facility, operated by the former Commercial Fishermen, has had a production goal of 1 million pink eggs and 100 K to 500K Chinook fry. So, Pink and Chinook escapements to the river are augmented by the hatchery. Coho, Chum and Sockeye are wild (naturally spawned) fish.