Volunteers help restore Courtenay site to natural habitat

Volunteers help restore Courtenay site to natural habitat

Volunteers have installed about 5,000 plants on the Kus-kus-sum site, a former sawmill next to Courtenay’s 17th Street Bridge along Comox Road, which Project Watershed is restoring to a tidally influenced riparian habitat.

The end goal is to emulate the neighboring Hollyhock Flats, Project Watershed Society executive director Caitlin Pierzchalski said in a Jan. 11 presentation to Courtenay council.

The initial “unpaving” phase of the project involved metal and concrete recycling. Phase 2 includes recontouring, revegetation and planting, while Phase 3 will remove the steel piling wall. To accomplish the latter, Project Watershed will bring a barge into the river and vibrate out the sheet piles.

The 2023/24 work plan consists of continued regrading, soil testing, and installing armouring and riprap.

“We’ll be planting another 10,000 plants or so this year,” Pierzchalski said.

To date, the society has raised 84 per cent of the total project cost, which is $3.2 million for purchase, and 75 per cent of the $5.5 million needed for restoration.

“We still need about $1 million to complete the restoration,” Pierzchalski said, noting a couple of grants are in place.

Donations to the project can be made at projectwatershed.ca/donate/


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