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McDonald Creek Estuary Enhancement (7).J



Major Projects.

Project Update - Cypress Creek Restoration Project. (December 2023)


Historically, the creek sustained significant returns of chum and pink salmon in the lower reaches with chinook, coho and steelhead returning to the higher reaches which feature viable spawning and rearing habitat. Today, salmon returns are greatly diminished with sporadic, limited pink salmon returns observed in odd numbered years.

 Salmon Passage Difficulties:

The channelisation of the lower part of the creek has resulted in fast flowing water offering little in terms of gravel retention, pools, spawning or rearing habitat. The upper part of the creek does offer spawning and rearing habitat but fish access is severely restricted by the presence of a weir constructed circa 1970, in order to provide a water intake for the DFO Pacific Science and Enterprise Centre (PSEC) located at 4160 Marine Drive.

West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society has undertaken a study of how the creek may be best restored. The study has two main components. Firstly, restoration of the lower reach and secondly, the construction of a fish ladder to facilitate fish passage above the PSEC weir.

Lower Reach Restoration:

  • Limitation

Creek channelization has resulted from historical dredging and flood repairs. The existing channel has no structure that retains gravels or forms pools for spawning, no woody debris and limited cover or holding habitat for juvenile salmonids

  • Solution

To provide ‘macro riffles’ to reduce the channel slope, trap gravels and restore spawning habitat. To restructure channel edge habitat to create alcoves and refugia for juvenile salmon rearing and cover habitat. To where possible, introduce large wood into the channel bed creating additional cover and instream habitat.

  • Professional Expertise

Professional expertise is being provided by Northwest Hydraulic Consultants (NHC) a global hydrotechnical company with a local office in North Vancouver. The lower reach restoration is being led by Barry Chilibek, P.Eng. whose professional focus has been on the integration of aquatic biology and hydrotechnical issues including fish passage, habitat restoration and the impact of dams. Barry is local and has particular knowledge of Cypress Creek.


Upper Reach Restoration:

  • Limitation

As previously described, a weir was constructed across Cypress Creek circa 1970 in order to provide a water intake for the DFO’s Pacific Science Enterprise Centre at 4160 Marine Drive. The impact has been to create a near-impassable barrier for salmon to access the spawning and rearing habitat that still exists in the upper reaches.

  • Solution

Our consultant has proposed the construction of a 16.5M fish ladder to the west of the weir.Stilling pools will be cut into the bank at each end of the ladder providing low velocity flow to attract the movement of salmonids.

  • Professional Expertise

Chris Macmillan R.P.Bio of Sartori Environmental Services is our consultant for this part of the project. Chris is an owner, Director & the lead biologist for Sartori with over 18 years experience in the design and implementation of many complex projects.



West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society has been closely monitoring Cypress Creek for many years through its water quality sampling programmes, temperature data collection, spawner surveys, trap and release programmes and habitat surveys. The habitat challenges facing the creek have been well documented.

Both components of the proposed restoration project have been shared with the District of West Vancouver, Squamish Nation & Tsleil-Waututh Nation. Discussions are taking place with the Pacific Science Enterprise Centre (PSEC) the DFO Habitat Restoration Centre of Expertise and the DFO Community Advisor who are all supportive of the project. Community information meetings are being planned.

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Project Update - Rodgers Creek Estuary Enhancement (November 2020)

The Rodgers Creek estuary was created in 2015 to allow access to spawning salmon at all tide levels.


Over time , the flow to the east deposited rock , gradually shallowing the steam bed. In high flow periods the stream flow naturally overflowed to the south and the ocean.


Scott Christie from Foreshore Marine and Environmental  Services, who designed the estuary originally , arranged with North Construction to donate an excavator to fill in the eastern portion of the estuary and expand the natural channel to the ocean.

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The work was completed at low tide by North Construction with supervision by Scott.


The improved flow will allow fish passage at most tide levels , and the gradient drop should eliminate material blockage during high flow episodes 

There was no charge by either company for this work .

Project Update - Nelson Creek Fish Ladder & Debris Rack (October 2020)

The Nelson Creek Fish Ladder Project was completed in October.

The ladder, designed by ISL Engineering, features a low rise gradient specifically suited to returning chum salmon which were historically the predominant species in the creek. The project was a collaborative effort between West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society, Thunderbird Marina, the District of West Vancouver and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. West Vancouver Streamkeepers were the project leaders and raised over $160,000 to cover the full project cost.

We were very pleased to record the first chum returning to Nelson Creek a week after project completion!

Completed fish ladder project - Nov. 2,

Project Update - Lawson Creek Fish Ladder & Culvert (2019/20)

The improvement to this concrete fish ladder located to the north of the Legion has been a great success. There is no material entering the boxes and the water flow has been greatly improved: a tribute to the excellent design of the structure.

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Culvert Ladder Repair


This steel ladder fish ladder is about 30m downstream from the one mentioned above and is located inside the concrete box-culvert that runs all the way down to Bellevue Ave before emerging again into daylight.

The ladder has been in place for about 10 years and consists of three short welded-metal sections to help any fish up one particularly steep section of the culvert. The whole structure is about 10 feet long and is bolted to one side of the culvert. It suffered damage from rocks crashing into it during winter storm events. The ladder has now been repaired by welding reinforced metal to the leading edges of the ladder boxes.

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Project Update – Hadden & Brothers Creeks

Hadden Creek - The support structure under the fish ladder and main culvert was failing due to undermining of the foundation caused by extremely heavy creek flows.  In August 2019, the District directed a significant upgrade required to ensure stability of the fish ladder and adjacent culvert.  Over the years, since constructed in 2007, we have observed four species of salmon that have progressed through the two fish ladders, located at each end of the culvert that passes under Stevens Drive.


Brothers Creek – In September 2019, the Provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure completed the replacement of all sixteen baffles in the culvert running under the Upper Levels Highway. The old large timber baffles had fallen into disrepair having been installed some thirty of so years ago.

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