Watersheds the Focus of City’s New State of Environment Report

May 26, 2014

Report offers “A Tale of Two Urbanizing Watersheds”

The City of Courtenay has released its second annual State of the Environment Report. This year, the report looks at the ecological systems that connect our neighbourhoods and communities: our backyard streams. 

Information on the health of two streams is presented to compare and contrast the types of effects that are being experienced in two very different parts of the City: Glen Urquhart creek in east Courtenay and Morrison Creek in West Courtenay.

“There’s no question that land development has an impact on our local ecology. One of the most visible and loved ecological features of a community is its water – its streams and rivers, lakes and wetlands,” said Nancy Hofer, the City’s environmental planner. “In working with the conservation sector, we decided to focus on these ecosystems to highlight their value and show how they are changing as our community grows over time.” 

The short and highly illustrative report includes information on stream ecology, land cover changes to riparian areas, and what residents can do to support the environment.  The report includes maps showing how land cover has changed around these waterways, where impact is greatest, and where restoration may be most needed.

“Scientific studies indicate that a stream should have approximately 30 metres of undisturbed vegetation buffers on each side to help ensure the stream system remains healthy,” continued Hofer. “The City currently ensures that these buffers remain when new development is proposed around creeks, but some of the older parts of our community were built before such regulations were in place. We see this particularly in the Glen Urquhart watershed where some parts of the creek have little or even no buffer.”

The City will be distributing the report to all land owners who live along Glen Urquhart and Morrison Creek.

“If there is one message that we hope residents take away from this report and the entire State of the Environment report series, it’s that we each have a role to play in the ecological sustainability of our community,” noted Hofer. “Each action we take has environmental impacts.

“Transportation, water use, landscaping, power usage, food sources, and the products we consume – there is so much each of us can do, it really is quite empowering and inspiring.”

More streamkeepers are needed for both streams to ensure the legacy of these organizations and the streams they work to protect. To contact the Morrison Creek Streamkeepers visit morrisoncreek.org  or email morrisoncreek@yahoo.ca .  To contact the Glen Urquhart Streamkeepers, email  T.W.H@shaw.ca  

To view the 2014 and 2013 State of the Environment Reports, go to the City’s website at www.courtenay.ca  Printed copies are also available at City Hall.