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West Dyke Trail work will help wildlife and flood protection

The City of Richmond said the canals are being cleaned from Terra Nova to Steveston Highway
Work is being carried out to clear the canals on the West Dyke Trail

You may have spotted some activity in the ditches between the West Dyke Trail and the homes which run parallel.

While it seems like relatively routine work, it’s actually a very targeted bid to clear the canals on the east side of the dyke of sediment and vegetation.

It’s all part of the City of Richmond’s habitat management strategy and flood protection plan.

The canals in question are designed to convey drainage water from many of the west dyke neighbourhoods to the city’s west side pump stations.

“In many areas sediment and vegetation have reduced capacity, and a number of calls have come in over the past few years expressing concern over rising water levels eroding slopes and retaining walls on the east side of the canal,” explained city spokesperson Clay Adams.

City crews are working with a long-reach excavator on the West Dyke, starting in Terra Nova and working their way south to Steveston Highway.

“The canal will be cleared as needed to enable adequate drainage, with native materials set aside on the banks to dry out for re-vegetation,” said Adams.

“Trucks will be used, where needed, to haul excess and non-native materials away.”

Richmond News reader hopes the work will encourage more wildlife

Trail walker and Richmond News reader Grant McMillan spotted the activity and contacted the News.

He said the smell coming from the canal ditches can often be quite foul and he hoped the work being carried out would facilitate wildlife to thrive.

Adams added that the canal maintenance project began on March 14 and is scheduled to be complete by mid-April and the work is “necessary to ensure the integrity of our drainage system, as well as mitigate the risk of flooding for residents.”

He added that the clearing was being done now as the city wants “to complete the work prior to the main nesting window of many of the West Dyke birds,” as well as allowing removed native materials to dry and “re-vegetate quickly, preventing erosion back into the canal.”

Both provincial and federal approval were received for the work, said Adams, which is being carried out under the eyes of a qualified environmental professional to ensure protection of wildlife in the area.

“On-site measures include daily bird nest surveys of the work zone (any nest located will have a no dig buffer placed around it), silt fencing where needed, and a number of steps to prevent harm to other aquatic life,” noted Adams.

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