An important construction project is now underway in a Bow River channel that runs parallel to Quarry Park in southeast Calgary.
It’s the first of five sites the city has identified as areas where fish habitat in the Bow can be improved.
“What we’re actually doing is we’re reactivating a channel that’s about a kilometer long, so they’re making it a little wider and making it a little deeper,” said Shane Keating, Ward 12 councillor.
“So over the winter and in the spring the fish will have a great place in which they can spawn.”
Severe bank erosion caused by the June 2013 flood forced the city to take measures to mitigate any further damage.
It solved the problem, but created another – the loss of sensitive fish habitat.
“When you just put a bunch of rocks in an area, there’s nothing there for the bugs that are in the water to be able to finish their life cycle, so the vegetation is absolutely critical,” said David Blair, co-owner of Fish Tales, a fishing supply store in Calgary.
Blair said there are several ways to improve fish habitat in the river.
“They can install woody debris, they can create some undercut banks, plant willow bushes – all of that stuff, which is 100 per cent natural, is way superior to just a bunch of rocks in the river.”
Scott Meldrum, who often fishes on the Bow River, agreed protecting fish habitat is important.
“I think it’s for a great cause. I mean we’ve got to keep these waters nice and clean, and keep the fish coming,” Meldrum said.
“People fly over here from all over the world to fish this river. And it’s just great fishing.”
And for Blair, that’s what keeps him in business.
“For us it’s critical – it’s the whole reason that we are in business is because of the Bow River,” Blair said.
To accommodate the Quarry Park project, the city installed fencing and closed a pedestrian path along the river bank.
It’s slated for completion by the end of October.
Design work on two other projects to restore fish habitat has been approved for Bowmont West and Beaverdam Flats.
Each project costs $2 – 3 million each, with costs shared by the city and the province’s flood mitigation program.