A local conservation group is conducting water testing at Bowker Creek in Victoria, B.C., with the hope of bringing salmon back to the stream.
Salmon were last seen in the creek — which winds through Oak Bay, Victoria, and Saanich — around 1914, though nothing has been seen since.
Gerald Harris, a project lead and with conservation group Friends of Bowker Creek, believes their disappearance coincided with the district of Oak Bay putting Bowker Creek in a long culvert so that it could use a gully as a dump.
"The gully became the city dump for several years and when it filled up, it became Fireman's Park. Now the creek runs in a two-block long culvert under Fireman's Park," said Harris.
Over the past decade, there has been work to restore the Bowker watershed and creek, and Harris says the team is actively looking to see whether the stream would be able to support salmon.
"[Fisheries and Oceans Canada] is very happy to supply eggs and support a project like this if we can demonstrate a few factors that give the stream a minimal viability for chum salmon," he said.
The group is testing the water quality, dissolved oxygen levels, and temperature in the creek to determine whether it is viable for chum salmon. Once their assessment is complete, they'll submit their findings to Fisheries and Oceans Canada who will then make a decision about the eggs.
With salmon, patience is key.
If all goes well, the team will be ready to "plant" chum salmon eggs during the winter of 2021-22.
"They would be going out in the spring of 2022," Harris said. "It would be three years before any would come back."