Penticton Creek is undergoing a long-term restoration project to bring it back to a more natural state. -courtesy City of Penticton

Restoring Penticton Creek moves to next stage

After more than a half-century of being channelized, Penticton Creek is slowly being restored to a more natural healthy stream state.

But it comes at a price. City engineer Ian Chapman says the estimate for the next section of the creek, which takes up where the 2015 showcase work left off, extends the restoration work up to the bridge at Nanaimo Avenue, is estimated to cost $630,000.

Chapman said funding is already in place from several sources, including $250,000 provided by the City of Penticton, $220,000 from Freshwater Fisheries B.C. and $150,000 from the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund.

The final price, though, will depend on the response when the project is sent out to tender.

“If the actual prices come in higher than the funds we have available, we will have to figure something out,” said Chapman.

The creek was worked on after floods in the 1940s saw it overflow the banks and run through downtown Penticton. The concrete lining and other work have decayed over time and also present a barrier to fish heading upstream to spawn.

In terms of fish habitat, Chapman said a great deal of work went into establishing optimal patterns for spawning fish

“It is no good having spawning habitat if you can’t get to it. It is no good having really good migration territory if there is nothing to get to at the end,” said Chapman.

The plan is for work to start on the creek in late July, with all in-creek work finished by Aug. 24, when the fisheries window closes. The remaining work should be completed in September, possibly extending into October.

Chapman said the summer’s work continues in a similar design to the 2015 showcase project with riprap along the bottom and sides of the creek and installation of vegetation above the flood level.

“So identical to the showcase project in most cases. There may be a couple of areas we have to resort to more sophisticated methods to address specific issues,” said Chapman. “It will extend the third pool in the showcase project, that’s where the project finished, and it will add three ripples and two new pools to the creek.”

The next step is consultation with stakeholders, like the Penticton Indian Band and nearby residents, as well as the public, at a session planned for the Saturday markets on May 13.

“We would bring it back to city council as soon as we can afterwards, if not May 23, then early June,” said Chapman.