KANAKA CREEK WATERSHED STEWARDSHIP CENTRE: Conserving nature is key to managing rainwater runoff and protecting Kanaka Creek watershed – an outdoor classroom, including ‘Roof to Creek’ water features and interpretive signage, is a powerful teaching environment

Note to Reader:

Kanaka Creek Regional Park of Metro Vancouver Regional District, is situated in the City of Maple Ridge, British Columbia. The park flanks both sides of Kanaka Creek from its confluence with the Fraser River just east of Haney and extending approximately 11 km up the creek to just south of the community of Webster’s Corners. 

Located within the park is the Kanaka Creek Watershed Stewardship Centre, opened in April 2017. Here, visitors can experience nature and watershed conservation. Students, for instance, are able to witness and participate in hatchery activities, water quality testing, surveying stream invertebrates, habitat restoration and fish and wildlife conservation.

The “Roof to Creek” water feature, part of the outdoor classroom, captures onsite rainwater before it is slowed, filtered and cleansed through a series of ponds and channels before entering Kanaka Creek, thus demonstrating best practices for rainwater management.

Kanaka Creek Watershed Stewardship Centre – a new jewel in the crown of Metro Vancouver’s regional parks system

Although the centre is a focal point of Kanaka Creek Regional Park – it connects people to the rest of the park, the broader aspect of nature conservation and to broader social networks and partnerships.

This project, a continuation of the  Bell Irving hatchery, explores the site in ways not previously done. The stewardship centre, a $1.1-million project, complements the new hatchery which was built in 2013. The design creates a campus-like setting where connectivity and circulation of the spaces are outdoors while minimizing the building footprint and impacts of site development in this delicate watershed.

Partially funded by the local community, the Centre is designed as a replicable model for watershed stewardship, sustainability, education and grassroots engagement.

Made Possible by an Extraordinary Partnership

The centre is the result of extraordinary working relationship between Metro Vancouver, The Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society (KEEPS) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The Pacific Salmon Foundation, Pacific Parklands Foundation and many others also contribute to the centre.

“The addition of the Kanaka Creek Watershed Stewardship Centre will offer education and grassroots engagement on the critical importance of watershed stewardship and environmental sustainability,” said Heather Deal, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Parks Committee. “We are thrilled to officially open this Centre in Maple Ridge for the enjoyment of all Metro Vancouver residents and visitors.”

“As we celebrate 50 years of Metro Vancouver Regional Parks this year, we continue to enhance our expansive portfolio of parks, park reserves, greenways and ecological conservancy areas,” said Metro Vancouver Chair Greg Moore. “This addition will be a valuable hub for future generations to enjoy, connect with, and learn about nature.”

Director Heather Deal, bottom left, along with Metro Vancouver Board Chair Greg Moore, Michael Meneer David Pohl, of Pacific Salmon Foundation, and Ken Williams and Ev Fairbrother, of KEEPS, officially open the Kanaka Creek Watershed Stewardship Centre.

Roof to Creek Learning Landscape

“As its name implies – the new Kanaka Creek Watershed Stewardship Centre fosters watershed stewardship. It provides opportunities for education and community engagement.  Here, visitors experience first-hand – salmonid enhancement work, rainwater management and nature conservation,” states Jill Deuling, Park Area Visitor Services Specialist with Metro Vancouver.

“The centre’s facilities are nested in a wonderful park setting with many outdoor learning spaces.  Its buildings are surrounded by a demonstration rainwater drainage system – the Roof to Creek Learning Landscape – designed and built to manage water captured on-site.

“It is a three-tiered system intended to protect Kanaka Creek from excessive water run-off from three levels of storms – from the more common mild storms to the less frequent but more severe storms.”

Design with Nature to Maintain the Water Balance

“This drainage system shows visitors how working with nature as opposed to fighting against nature can beneficially maintain water as an asset, rather than it becoming a problem,” continues Jill Deuling.

“Instead of draining and hiding water underground in pipes where its flow and velocity is likely to increase along with its potential to do harm, much of the rainwater is brought to the surface to flow slowly through an architecturally interesting drainage system that works with nature.

“Rainwater is slowed, filtered and cleaned through a series of channels, ponds and native plantings. This drainage system provides education props for lessons on water management, while providing wildlife habitat and lovely ponds for visitors to enjoy.”

Connecting People to the Natural Environment

“Visitors are encouraged to explore the centre’s grounds, view interpretive signs and venture into Kanaka Creek Regional Park along connected trails. Programs and facilities support a wide range of audiences. Many are school children and their teachers.  Others are casual drop-in visitors who come to the park for a walk and recreational outing. Some visit the centre for university studies and research. Others come for professional development,” explains Jill Deuling.

“There is a great cadre of park partners and volunteers who are happy to show visitors the centre and how they ‘walk-the-talk’.  They help with plantings, invasive removals, salmonid enhancement work, stream clean-ups and community outreach.”

School group experiencial learning about watershed conservation

Viewing interpretive signs about rainwater management

Volunteers and partners