Newly daylit section of Guichon Creek emerges from beneath the ground

Water is flowing along a newly daylit section of Guichon Creek on the BCIT Burnaby Campus that previously travelled in an underground culvert. The restoration will create new habitat for wildlife and allow salmon to navigate further along the creek.

The plan to daylight this area close to the BCIT Recreation Services Centre actually came from a problem. Early in 2023, a sinkhole began to emerge in this area. After ensuring the area was safe, the investigation showed that the problem was caused by damage to the underground culvert that carries Guichon Creek under part of campus.

This culvert was installed to carry the creek in the 1960s and although the south section has been restored, the creek still runs underground along the north of the campus. BCIT eventually plans to daylight as much of the creek as possible on campus – restoring a rare habitat and getting rid of aging infrastructure at the same time.

The team had to decide whether to repair the damage to the pipe or to open up this section of creek and landscape the surroundings. After working with the expert team of consultants, they decided it would be possible to daylight this new section of creek. The decision to take this approach provided the lowest long-term risk and was also comparable in costs to a repair.

“It’s really an example of making a benefit out of a problem,” explains Joe Cosh, BCIT Director of Facilities Improvements. “We were presented with a problem with a piece of aging infrastructure that failed and decided that you could use the opportunity to create something that improves the campus”.

Over the last few months, work has been underway to first install a temporary channel to divert the creek around the area and then excavate and landscape a new permanent channel.

Designing a channel for salmon

The new channel needed to be designed to allow salmon to navigate this new section of the creek for the first time. Consultants Kerr, Wood Leidel (KWL) worked on a design that improved the flow to allow salmonids to navigate past the weir.

Alan Jonsson, Icthyo-Fluvial Specialist at KWL explains, “Designing a stream channel with habitat values while maintaining drainage requirements and building amongst existing infrastructure can be challenging. It requires understanding all aspects of requirements and finding opportunities to optimize each one. Above all it is about working with the stream, the site and the vision for Guichon Creek.”

Finally, at the end of December 2023, the team were ready to allow the creek to flow down the new channel for the first time. This had to be done very carefully to make sure that the design was working as intended. Just as planned, everything went smoothly and water is now flowing. However, the project isn’t complete. Over the next few months landscaping, planting, and public realm improvements will transform the banks into a richer habitat and student friendly environment.

Joe Cosh continues, “The new daylighted section of the creek will extend the existing creekside ecosystem and hopefully we’ll see salmon navigate the stream in the near future. We hope our campus community enjoy the new section of the creeks as the planting and landscaping grows in over the coming months.”

WATCH: Joe Cosh, and Mark Angelo, river conservationist and Chair Emeritus of the BCIT Rivers’ Institute, discuss the work done to restore Guichon Creek on Global News.

2 thoughts on “Newly daylit section of Guichon Creek emerges from beneath the ground”

  1. So cool! I’d wondered what was happening with the sinkhole and all the construction. This is a lovely transformation and solution.


Leave a comment