Joseph Creek at the culvert on 1st St. S across from the former RV campground entrance. Trevor Crawley photo.

Joseph Creek at the culvert on 1st St. S across from the former RV campground entrance. Trevor Crawley photo.

City to move forward on section of Joseph Creek channel restoration

The City is set to address flooding and erosion concerns on a section of Joseph Creek near downtown Cranbrook caused by encroachment of non-native willow trees, after spending years navigating a labyrinth of regulatory protocols.

The city has received federal approval from the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to move forward with channel restoration work on an area of the creek at 15th Ave. S and 1st St. S.

The project involved collaboration with the DFO, provincial environment ministry and the Ktunaxa Nation and ʔaq̓am local governments, according to a city news release.

Immediate work will include removal of the non-native willow trees between April 1-22, as per the permit window issued by the DFO.

“The vegetation removal will include cutting down the non-native golden willow that make up the majority of vegetation along the project area, said Mike Matejka, Manager, Roads and Infrastructure for the City of Cranbrook. “The willow removal work must take place in April per the requirements of the authorization to avoid any potential bird nesting impacts.”

The majority of project activities will get underway in July and August, during the provincially prescribed in-stream works period.

“Once the creek channel work is complete the site will be re-planted with a diverse range of native trees and plants that are much better suited for the creek function and habitat,” Matejka said. “The final site restoration will be similar in nature to the riparian habitat improvements that have taken place at Idlewild Park and in Kinsmen Park immediately downstream of Victoria Avenue.”

Street parking and residential access will be affected once work gets underway and public notifications and additional signage will be in place while it is being completed, according to the city.

Matejka provided an update on the project to city council on Monday evening, as Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt noted the scope of the Joseph Creek restoration work was envisioned to be much larger.

“Approval on this has been a long time coming, and I know that probably five years ago we started talking about the rehabilitation of Joseph Creek right from Idlewild Dam right down to the other end of the town,” Pratt said.

Matejka added that there has been challenges in continuity with government organizations and ministries with turnover and changes in bureaucracy.

“We really need to find more ways to get these other levels of government that act as approval or referring agencies to help remove some of those barriers or streamline some of those processes to get this done, so that’s really what we’ve been trying to focus on,” Matejka said.