The City is planning to naturalize Vernon Creek through Polson Park over 2 phases and over the next several years. Phase 1 of the naturalization project is planned to start in the summer of 2024 at Highway 97, along Vernon Creek in Polson Park, and continues south towards the current duck pond outlet into the creek channel. Phase 2 will start where Phase 1 left off and continue south towards the existing maintenance vehicle crossing. Naturalizing Vernon Creek through Polson Park is a necessary first step to be taken before the City reinvests in new facilities within Polson Park.
Naturalization of the channel for Phase 1 will include removal of the existing concrete banks and elongating the channel by meandering it along its current course, lengthening the channel. Naturalization will also add natural features within the meandering channel such as riffle pools and boulders, which will increase natural fish/spawning habitat where there is currently very little.
Naturalizing the channel will increase water quality, increase fish habitat, increase riparian complexity and decrease groundwater impacts on the park operations. Naturalizing the channel will also include a floodplain on either side of the main channel to accommodate the larger flooding events. The channel will have shallow slopes and will be planted with natural riparian vegetation and bank armoring to prevent erosion.
This project will also include a new crossing and a new pathway along the southside of the channel where there is currently none. Preliminary project details are available in the drawing package here.
To help share the vision of this project with the community, an interactive story map has been created to show more details about the project and the reasons why the City is moving forward with this work.
Hiring contractor: October 2023
Expected construction period for Phase 1: July to November 2024
Frequently Asked Questions
Are the supporting studies available for public review?
Yes. This project is based on recommendations from a hydrogeology study completed in 2020, available here. The City also completed Flood Mapping, Risk Assessment and Mitigation work. This work supports and complements the Okanagan Nation Alliance work to reintroduce sc’win (sockeye) and ntytyix (chinook) salmon to the region.
What are the expected benefits of this project?
This project will address longstanding problems with high groundwater and water ponding in Polson Park by creating a naturalized floodplain to accommodate seasonal water flows and flooding events on either side of Vernon Creek. This will save taxpayer dollars currently spent on parks maintenance related to flooding problems. In addition, naturalization will foster a healthier ecosystem, and create new habitat so that fish will now be able to live out their entire life cycle in Vernon Creek. Spawning habitat is currently sparse within this project area and has been identified as an area needing improvement. This project will incorporate spawning habitat for Kokanee, Trout, as well as Sockeye habitat.
Will public walkways be affected?
This project will remove the existing crossings and replace them with new crossings at 2 to 3 locations as well as a new pathway along the southside of the channel where there is currently none. Further walkways in Polson Park will be a consideration of the soon to be started planning process that will begin in 2023. A new plan for Polson Park will guide the City’s investment in Polson Park.
Why are trees being removed as part of this project?
Grading the land and removing several trees in and around Vernon Creek is a necessary part of the project to re-establish the flood plain in Polson Park and protect future investment in new amenities within the park. The City understands that removing trees impacts wildlife habitat and how the community experiences the park. We will examine each tree to determine if it can survive the construction work. Every effort will be made to retain as many trees as possible. Various tree species will replace those being removed, as well as additional natural riparian vegetation. The City is confident that once completed, the project will make Polson Park an even better place to visit in every season.
Is reforestation of the creek area part of the project plan?
The City has an extensive restoration planting plan which will be implemented after grading is completed. The majority of the new planting will be completed following the completion of phase 2 of the project following 2025. This will also ensure most of the planning of Polson Park will be completed in an effort to integrate new amenities and walkways into the planned replanting efforts.
Is there an opportunity for public feedback?
The public will be consulted as part of the Polson Park Master Planning process, which is expected to start in 2023.
Mathew Keast, P.Eng
Water Resource Engineer
250 550 3634