Work to transform the former water reservoirs owned by the Town of Creston and the Regional District of Central Kootenay to a natural wetlands is set to begin on March 22, 2021, starting with the former Erickson reservoir. Work will begin to remove dirt berms and fill the reservoir.
“Transforming our former reservoirs into wetlands helps to establish and improve the habitat for wildlife in our area, while reducing maintenance concerns and risks associated with the site”, said Mayor Ron Toyota. “This work has been made possible by an environmental grant received from Columbia Basin Trust and also by the Creston Valley Forest Corporation (Creston Community Forest) who have become a partner in the endeavour to create the wetlands, a fish pond and a public open space. The restoration work on the reservoirs was scheduled to have been completed in 2020 but was delayed due to our primary consultant and project designer being unable to cross the border as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic”, he added.
The primary consultant for the Crawford Hill reservoir restoration project is Mr. Thomas Biebighouser, Wildlife Biologist and Wetland Ecologist. Mr. Biebighouser, a U.S. resident employed with the BC Wildlife Federation is familiar with the Creston Valley, having completed numerous projects including the wetland constructed at Erickson Elementary School, and is currently working with Yaqan Nukiy on wetland restoration. At the Crawford Hill Reservoir site, he has designed a project that requires no maintenance through improving the natural landscape.
“Council views this project as two separate phases. This first phase that we are starting work on is to augment the natural beauty and environment of the Creston Valley by transforming the former water reservoirs. The second is to consider the opportunity to create a natural, public open space for our community to enjoy, which we would like to do in consultation with the residents of the Crawford Hill area. This is only the first phase”, Mayor Toyota reiterated.
In late 2019, Town of Creston Staff met with residents from the Crawford Hill area to discuss the potential of creating a public open space at the decommissioned reservoir site. The meeting was well attended, and Staff took concerns relayed by residents back to develop a site plan for the potential public open space. “Concerns of increased traffic and vandalism were two of the major issues expressed at that meeting”, recalled Chief Administrative Officer Michael Moore. “We will be contacting the residents of the area in the coming weeks with our thoughts on how some of their concerns can be addressed, and listen to any additional feedback to provide this information to Council, prior to Council making any decisions about opening the site to the public”, he added. “Importantly, the work developing the wetlands is not contingent on the land being open for public use. The first phase of this project was designed to mitigate risks and naturally improve the area. We will be engaging in a safe, robust public consultation process related to the potential opening of a natural public space to enjoy the developed wetlands, to receive further comment for Council’s consideration in the near future”.