Environmental Enhancement

Environmental enhancement work was a key priority all through Port Mann/Highway 1 construction, creating new fish and wildlife habitat in critical locations throughout the project.

Habitat enhancement work was carried out on a larger scale than any other environmental project overseen by British Columbia’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Environmental planning work began early in 2009 and habitat monitoring continues after project completion.

Construction of environmental enhancements was conducted with special care for endangered species, and incorporated engagement with First Nations, stakeholders, students and the public.

Environmental initiatives included:

  • More than 20 habitat enhancement sites
  • 24 environmental culverts for fish and wildlife passage
  • About 450,000 streamside plantings
  • 2 fish-friendly pump stations
  • Engagement with stakeholder groups and First Nations

The PMH1 Project developed, implemented and maintained an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) that ensured every aspect of the project – from design to completion and monitoring – used industry best practices to act in an environmentally responsible manner.

Monitoring included:

  • Environmental monitoring (daily assessments of water and air quality, erosion and sediment control) throughout active construction along the corridor
  • Wildlife monitoring including pre-construction surveys and salvage, and specialist monitoring for raptors and herons, as well as sturgeon and eulachon
  • Hydrophone monitoring for in-river works
  • Noise monitoring
  • Water quality trend monitoring
  • Post-construction fish and wildlife effectiveness monitoring

Key habitat enhancement and restoration projects

Brunette River enhancements

Working with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, First Nations, environmental stewards and local government, the PMH1 Improvement Project has created significant habitat improvements to the upper Brunette River. This has included creating new rearing areas for young salmon, endangered species and wildlife to raise their young.

The enhancements include:

  • An off-channel perched pond to provide rearing habitat for salmon and native amphibians
  • Access and habitat improvements in the mainstem river to provide spawning and rearing habitat for Coho and other salmon species and the endangered Nooksack dace
  • A weir and new channel connecting Lost and Holmes creeks

Tidal channel enhancements at Colony Farm

For the first time in 100 years, tidal flow and field drainage has been restored to Colony Farm Park, making it a viable habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife. With help from Metro Vancouver, the Kwikwetlem First Nations and other stakeholders, the PMH1 project provided:

  • Self-regulating tidal flap gates, which allow water to flow in and out of Wilson Farm and create a nursery-like setting similar to those found in natural, freshwater estuaries
  • Over 4 km of newly accessible channels and native plantings, providing habitat for fish and wildlife species
  • The Wilson Farm pump station was upgraded with new pumps to make it fish-friendly

Post-construction effectiveness monitoring has found that more than 12 fish species (including four species of Pacific salmon) and three amphibian species are now using the site, primarily for rearing their young. Ongoing monitoring continues for songbird and small mammal diversity, as well as use by hawks, eagles and herons.

The project won the 2013 Environmental Award of Excellence from the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada – BC Chapter, and the 2012 Transportation Association of Canada Environmental Achievement Award.

Key community engagement and education initiatives

Brae Tidal Slough restoration

Working in collaboration, Kwantlen First Nation and the PMH1 project team excavated, enhanced and re‐vegetated 1.3 km of tidal slough habitat in Fort Langley to create new habitat for young Chinook and Coho Salmon, as well as other native wildlife. Sloughs provide critical habitat for a diverse range of wildlife and also act as natural filters, removing impurities from water before it enters our streams and oceans.

In 2010, the Kwantlen people honoured the project with a new name: “Sqwalets,” meaning “a river runs through.” Three years of post-construction effectiveness monitoring carried out by the Kwantlen First Nation shows that the site provides important habitat for young salmonids and wildlife, such as Red-legged frogs (a provincially blue-listed amphibian).

BCIT Education Partnerships

Part of the PMH1 project’s environmental mandate was to help foster environmental stewardship in the communities along the corridor. In January 2014, our environmental manager conducted a tour of planting and vegetation work happening at Still Creek in Burnaby for BCIT Sustainable Resource Management students taking the Urban and Interface Silviculture course.

The tour highlighted the environmental and habitat work taking place along the Highway 1 corridor near the Willingdon Interchange. New stream habitat is being created and will provide winter rearing habitat for young Coho salmon. Students brought their own shovels and helped re-plant many of the trees that had been washed out by recent flooding.

In October 2012 students from the Fish, Wildlife and Recreation program at BCIT helped our environmental team with habitat enhancement in Surrey.

Students helped plant Cattails (Typha Latifolia) to act as a filter in a pond constructed by the PMH1 project, improving the quality of storm water run-off before it continues downstream.