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Salmon habitat project awarded funding

$2.5 million will help upgrade flood infrastructure in the lower Fraser region
Tilbury Slough
Tilbury Island Slough looking out towards the Fraser River with MacDonald Pump Station in the foreground.

A $2.5 million funding allocation has been announced for a project that will improve fish passage at three sites in the lower Fraser floodplain.

Resilient Waters, a project of MakeWay Charitable Society, in partnership with Watershed Watch Salmon Society, is a collaborative effort relying on support and guidance from many lower Fraser First Nations and municipalities, as well as academics, NGOs, and other levels of government.

“This funding will improve access to 40 hectares of crucial salmon habitat currently blocked by flood control structures, making life a little easier for these wild Fraser River salmon,” says Resilient Waters Project Manager Dan Straker. “Resilient Waters is leading the way by showcasing how we can keep our communities and farmland safe from flooding and give our salmon a boost at the same time.”

One of the sites slated for improvement is Tilbury Slough in Delta.

“The City of Delta is supportive of this partnership to improve waterways in our community,” added Coun. Dylan Kruger, who toured the site and had an opportunity to participate in field work. “It’s integral we continue to work with experts like the Resilient Waters team and Watershed Watch to ensure municipal infrastructure does not harm local fish populations.”

Fish-friendly solutions exist for flood management but, as yet, are not required when upgrading aging infrastructure, added Watershed Watch.

“The habitats that will be opened up were once critical overwintering refuges for juvenile salmon and have been blocked for decades,” says Watershed Watch Salmon Society Habitat Programs Director Lina Azeez. “It’s great to have these three sites addressed, and we will keep working to ensure fish passage is restored to the over 1500 km of habitat blocked by 156 flood structures. We must also ensure fish-friendly flood control becomes normal practice as the region moves towards long-term floodplain planning.” 

Tsawwassen First Nation are partners in this work.

“Salmon are our relatives - bringing them back to these historic sloughs is one small but meaningful step towards restoring a really important piece of our culture, and our connection to the land and waters we’ve called home since time immemorial,” said a statement from the TFN.

The project funding will be provided by the BC Salmon Restoration Innovation Fund, a joint fund from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Province of B.C.

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