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Here's why Vancouver wants to 'un-bury' a stream near Spanish Banks

The city is working on daylighting Canyon Creek
An artist's rendering of how the creek would be reworked into the current landscape at Spanish Banks.

Vancouver parks board staff are looking to continue their work unburying a creek at Spanish Banks Beach.

Canyon Creek runs through Pacific Spirit Park, but gets covered up as it approaches the road, parking lots and beach and enters the ocean through a pipe. For a variety of reasons the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation are looking at opening it back up to day light (a practice known as daylighting).

Canyon Creek is one of three streams that run from the park into English Bay; the other two are both open; Spanish Banks Creek was restored in 1999 and Salish Creek was restored in 2012. Following the work at Spanish Banks Creek salmon have returned to the creek after being released by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

"Daylighting of Canyon Creek would create an aboveground watercourse to flow into mostly infilled land where Spanish Banks beach currently sits," states a report from parks staff. "If successful, this project could create a model that could inform habitat restoration in other busy beach parks such as in the West End."

Among the benefits of uncovering the creek, staff point to increase the naturalization of the area, increased biodiversity, a greater protected area for that biodiversity, and improving the water quality in English Bay.

There are expected benefits for people as well, with a separation of the bike path and walkway and increased awareness and education about projects and situations like this one, the report suggests.

"The general concept and goal would daylight the creek to be similar to a stream in as natural a state as possible," states the report. "The opportunities to daylight streams in Parks are relatively few in the City; this project will bring connectivity within a larger Regional watershed of important conservation value, of high visibility, and promote ecological awareness."

Right now staff are looking for the board to approve intergovernmental work with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations. The provincial government and Metro Vancouver would also have to be involved.

Staff estimates the design and plan would be completed as part of the 2023-2026 Capital Plan.