Monday, May 30, 2011

Tod Creek Flats Update

On May 18th, my community office helped organize a community gathering led by Friends of the Tod Creek Watershed.

Tod Creek Flats is a floodplain along Tod Creek as it drains north from Prospect Lake into Tod Inlet. The regular flooding makes for valuable agricultural land – all the nutrients get deposited as the water drains away – and also raises concerns for neighbours who need to protect their property.

The Flats don’t drain as quickly or thoroughly as they used to. Over a century of development in the area - including houses, roads and farms – has had a big impact on the drainage patterns.

David Cubberley and engaged community
The District of Saanich clearly recognizes the need to manage floodplains for ecological and agricultural reasons as well as for safety. The District established a working group and the working group became the Friends of Tod Creek Watershed – who, in 2008, partnered with Saanich to commission Murdoch de Greef to draft a report on the historical flow patterns.

The report was presented to Saanich and the Friends in the fall of 2009. Since then, the Friends have been trying to get funding to conduct the full hydrological studies needed to determine the next steps.

Over 30 landowners and interested parties joined the discussion. At the last minute, duties at the Legislative Assembly kept me from attending, but David Cubberley, former MLA was kind enough to step in and play the part of the welcoming committee, along with my assistant Erika Rolston.

Scott Murdoch did an excellent job presenting his report: an overview of the changes to the area over the last century and the results of a design charette in the summer of 2008. The results were met with some concern that solutions would be limited to the options discussed in the report.

Scott Murdoch
Deborah Curran, local land owner and Smart Growth BC co-founder, jumped in and made it very clear that the options in the report are only the beginning of the discussions. Deborah has been involved in this effort for some time now and – as professor of environmental law - is very knowledgeable about the hoops that need jumping. She spoke to the different levels of government, each with their own abilities and constraints with respect to environmental regulations. Deborah has been speaking with UVic faculty about the possibility of an environmental engineering program taking on Tod Creek Flats as an ongoing study.

Finally, Mary Haig-Brown was asked to speak as Chair of Friends of Tod Creek Watershed. She spoke very clearly to the need to persevere now so that our grandchildren do not have to fix the issues that our grandparents started.

I’ve heard from several people that it was a very informative evening and an important step forward. In adddition to David, Erika and the Friends, I’d like to thank the neighbours for their thoughtful and frank input, and the First Unitarian Church of Victoria for sharing their beautiful space and providing delicious snacks.