Rivers day events honour history

NANAIMO – Land trust works to preserve areas of Nanaimo River.

Nanaimo Area Land Trust and its partners are honouring World Rivers Day with local celebrations and activities.

The land trust and members of the Nanaimo Watershed Roundtable are hosting Nanaimo Rivers Day to honour Nanaimo’s history built on local waterways.

Events happen at Bowen Park Amphitheatre Sunday (Sept. 29) with a salmon barbecue, interactive information booths and live music.

World Rivers Day, held annually on the last Sunday of September and celebrated in 60 countries, is a celebration of the world’s waterways to highlight the value of rivers and to raise public awareness and encourage improved stewardship of rivers around the world.

One of the land trust’s primary goals is to create a comprehensive protection plan for the Nanaimo River. Efforts toward that goal have been underway for more than two years, starting with the Nanaimo River symposium in September 2011.

Since then 16 stakeholders, including all levels of government, residents, non-government organizations, residents and forest industry companies formed the Nanaimo River Watershed Roundtable to share ideas and come up with a comprehensive, long-term protection strategy to protect the Nanaimo River and its watershed.

“They’re moving forward, looking at what are our long-term goals and how are we going to get there,” said Gail Adrienne, Nanaimo Area Land Trust executive director. “We’re also looking at if there’s a property on the river that is on the market or might be coming on the market that we might be in a position to try to acquire.”

Adrienne said the proposal is in its early stages, but the land trust has been researching the possibility of acquiring property and feeling out the idea with TimberWest’s real estate division Couverdon Real Estate.

The trust is also waiting for a report from a fish habitat study done over the past decade to see what salmon species in the river are currently healthy, which ones need help and what kind of measures can be taken to improve stocks overall.

“Is there work to be done with side channels and other complexities that can be done in the river that would help returning salmon and where can we find money to do that?” Adrienne said. “This is going to be decades long and I would say the main thing we’re doing really well right now is talking to each other and getting along really well. The goodwill and all the participation among all the groups has just been amazing.”

Some of the roundtable participants, including the City of Nanaimo and TimberWest, will be hosting tours of the Nanaimo River Hatchery, Morden Colliery Provincial Park, Nanaimo River Watershed, Nanaimo River Regional Park Eco-Walk and more as part of Nanaimo Rivers Day activities.

Events at Bowen Park run 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., but tours, leaving from Bowen Park and other locations, start at 9 a.m. and require pre-registration.

For more information about Nanaimo Rivers Day tours and tour registration, please check the Nanaimo Parks Recreation and Culture Fall 2013 Activity Guide online at www.nanaimo.ca or call 250-756-5200.