Article by: The Peak - Paul Galinski Jun 18, 2021
Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society (PRPAWS) has been using its outdoors construction skills to build major revisions at Powell River Salmon Society’s Lang Creek hatchery.
Volunteers from PRPAWS have been engaged in trail building and bridge building endeavours at the hatchery that will help make the facility more accessible for people with disabilities.
Ed Oldfield, past president of the salmon society, said there is a loop around the spawning channel that’s about 880 feet in length and the problem with the loop is, as beautiful as it is, there has never been wheelchair accessibility. Oldfield said a number of years ago he thought it would be a good idea to make it wheelchair accessible.
“Powell River Salmon Society applied for several grants to do this and have been turned down, so two months ago, we decided we were going to do it,” said Oldfield. “It got started and PRPAWS came in and said they’d volunteer for us and they are making great progress.”
Oldfield said volunteers had completed about 300 feet of the pathway on June 8, and by the end of the day, he expected that 400 feet would be done. When originally beginning the project, Oldfield said the salmon society figured they’d make that kind of progress by September.
“PRPAWS has done an awesome job,” said Oldfield. “It’s such a beautiful place and such an improvement to this site. It will be an addition for the whole community to come out here and enjoy it. We’ve had people out here in tears, thinking they can finally come out here with their friends and family with mobility challenges.”
The project is running on donations. Oldfield said there is a group of 13 commercial prawn fishers from around Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland who ponied up about $13,000 for the project. Western Forest Products has donated some material.
“It’s all appreciated,” said Oldfield. “It’s all volunteer work and all donations. Without it, we are nothing.”
Oldfield said the salmon society, while having employees, relies heavily on volunteer hours. He said in a typical year, there are roughly 17,000 hours of volunteer effort. He said it has been hampered by COVID-19 restrictions but the volunteer hours are starting back up.
Job well done
“These guys are doing a fantastic job,” said Oldfield.
PRPAWS member Scott Glaspey said, a month ago, a member started talking about the salmon society’s efforts to make the Lang Creek hatchery area wheelchair accessible. He said his organization was at a point where it felt the Sunshine Coast Trail, which PRPAWS maintains, was in good shape and it seemed like the organization had a bit of downtime.
“We said hey, let’s do something for the community and see if it works,” said Glaspey. “That’s how it started.”
Glaspey said when PRPAWS volunteers began the work at the hatchery, they didn’t have a loader, so transporting the gravel for the pathways was “pretty heavy.” They were able to procure the services of a front-end loader and the work started to go much more quickly, which is good, because the Sunshine Coast Trail is starting to get busier and there’s now need for some maintenance.
Glaspey said the work has been a great addition to the Lang Creek hatchery and people will be able to go by wheelchair to several locations where they can view the salmon when they are running.
“It’s going to be wonderful,” said Glaspey. “Who doesn’t like salmon? This is the first time where we’ve done a big community project with the whole crew.”
In addition to building the pathways, PRPAWS was involved in building a new bridge two or three weeks ago.