BOWKER CREEK BLUEPRINT IS A BEACON OF INSPIRATION: “The outdoor classroom is a learning space. For my students, it is an extension of our classroom. It becomes more engaging for them because it is real,” stated Derek Shrubsole, science teacher at Oak Bay High School and member of the Friends of Bowker Creek

Note to Reader:

The Bowker Creek Blueprint is a 100-year action plan to peel back the pavement, daylight an historical creek, and restore nature within the Victoria urban region on Vancouver Island. The intergenerational commitment by so many players is inspirational. 

Released by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in conjunction with BC Rivers Day in September 2021, A Beacon of Inspiration: Bowker Creek Blueprint and 100-Year Action Plan is a short history of building bridges of understanding from the past to the present and future. It is a story of local government champions and community leaders who share a vision, embrace shared responsibility, and are bringing Bowker Creek back to life.

In A Beacon of Inspiration, the Partnership tells the “story behind the story” to showcase the history and evolution of the Blueprint process over the past two decades. The storyline is structured in three parts. The first two cover the past two decades. The third part comprises interviews with current players who are collaborating to set a direction for the second decade of Bowker Blueprint implementation.

Presented below is the interview with

Outdoor Classroom Creates Authenticity for Students

“What I have now is an actual outdoor, naturalized learning space. I do not have to show a video or read a book to teach a lesson. We can go out and see it in person. The students can experience it,” states Derek Shrubsole. He has been teaching science at Oak Bay High School since 2003.

“When you can take kids outside and engage them in that space, it becomes more engaging for them because it’s real. Before this project was done, there was really nothing around other than grass fields. We are really fortunate. We can do real science with them.”

“Students want authenticity to what they are studying. Too often in assignments they are told to research something which has no real meaning to them. To make it meaningful to them, I could see them buying into the idea of bringing Chum salmon back to Bowker Creek.”

“The idea resulted from an international student exchange with the Netherlands. We involved them in the habitat and water quality assessment for Bowker. We did a comparison with natural conditions in Goldstream Creek. When contrasting the two, the question was asked: would it be possible to bring salmon back to Bowker? This question always draws people in.”

To Learn More:

Bowker Creek originates at the University of Victoria on southern Vancouver Island and flows for 8 km through three municipalities – Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay. The creekshed is completely urbanized. The impervious area coverage is 56%. Over 30,000 people reside in the surrounding creeks.

A Beacon of Inspiration is the 10th in the Partnership’s Watershed Blueprint Case Profile Series. Because there is no equal to the Bowker Creek Blueprint and the intergenerational 100-Year Action Plan, the intent is that this “story behind the story” will have lasting value as a legacy resource for the Bowker Creek Urban Watershed Renewal Initiative. The Partnership’s hope is that others will be inspired by the Bowker experience.

To read the complete story, download a copy of A Beacon of Inspiration: Bowker Creek Blueprint and 100-Year Action Plan.