Welcome to Guichon creek, BCIT Burnaby’s own little sanctuary of nature and wildlife. On September 20th, BCIT will be hosting a Guichon Creek day in honor or World Rivers Day. On campus, you can walk quite far through a lovely forested area following the creek. After attending the creek day last year, I learned a lot about Guichon creek and grew a true appreciation for the work people have put into restoring it and how far it’s come.
Guichon creek is a tributary from Still Creek. It was a popular spot for fishing about 100 years ago, and it was common to see wild animals like bears, salmon, cougars, and more. However, this oasis almost completely disappeared, and wouldn’t exist today at all if people hadn’t started to do something about it. Guichon creek was damned, built around, and part of the land was used for growing crops. The salmon and fish that once thrived here struggled, and eventually were no longer able to return as it was now unnavigable.
People at Guichon Creek day 2022 spoke on how it used to look when it was at its worst. The water level was so low that there was hardly any water at all. They remember seeing a lot of garbage in the creek bed, including a toilet seat and a bed box spring. It’s assumed that the garbage was thrown off a bridge on the highway and into Still Creek, eventually washing up at BCIT.
These extreme and upsetting changes triggered people to not only notice, but to take action. Starting at the South end of the creek, BCIT, students, the City of Burnaby, and the Rivers Institute worked together to start restoring it in the 70s.
As the years go on, work is still being done to improve and grow back what was once there. Trees are being planted, and wildlife is slowly rediscovering the area. Bears and cougars have been sighted again, and one of the most massive breakthroughs was the return of the salmon. Last May, I saw a family of geese walking along the banks of the creek. The sun was setting and the gosling’s fur looked so fluffy against the bright orange light, and lots of ducks have taken it up as home once more.
However, this change didn’t magically happen. Restoration is a long and grueling process with major dedication and continuous hard work. The sad part is, so many creeks and rivers in our city have been destroyed from what they once were. The main reason people have been working to restore these creeks, particularly Still Creek, is to see the salmon return on their crucial migration path. Learn more about the restoration of Still Creek here.
We’ve learned from our mistakes, and green spaces Canada-wide are now cherished, respected, and preserved. After all, the animals need a home too! And in fact, there are still plans for Guichon Creek! The new Trades and Technology Complex plans to add a “daylight” section of the creek, as well as removing invasive species. This will help the salmon and trout navigate and will essentially complete the restoration process, as it will once more have a functional aquatic ecosystem! What an accomplishment.