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MOSSOM CREEK: Port Moody hatchery to be a leader in sustainability

Volunteers, including, from left: Gaetan Royer, Pat Dennett and George Assaf. have already begun planning and fundraising for the new Mossom Creek Hatchery and education centre.   - DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Volunteers, including, from left: Gaetan Royer, Pat Dennett and George Assaf. have already begun planning and fundraising for the new Mossom Creek Hatchery and education centre.
— image credit: DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS

Plans to build a state-of-the-art hatchery and education facility on the footprint of the destroyed Mossom Creek Hatchery are taking shape.

With a cost initially pegged at $1.2 million, including corporate and community donations and in-kind services, a low-impact, innovative building is set to rise from the ashes and could be open by next spring.

At least that is the hope of the Burrard Inlet Marine Education Society (BIMES), whose team of volunteers is now planning and raising funds for the project.

“It’s going to be as off-off-grid as we can make it,” said Gaetan Royer, a former Port Moody city manager and a previous parks planning manager with Metro Vancouver, who is helping to design the building based on input from Centennial secondary school students and BIMES volunteers who participated in recent visioning sessions.

Mossom Hatchery Project

Because it’s in a sensitive area, next to a creek, the new two-storey, 2,600 sq. ft. building and its operating systems will adhere to the highest environmental standards. For example, the design calls for a water collection system that will store rain from the roof of an observation tower, or “crow’s nest,” to feed a fire sprinkler system. As well, the walls will be super-insulated to keep electricity use to a minimum. And plans call for a system to capture energy from the creek for electricity, a specially-designed off-channel pond, that will naturally filter water from the fish tanks, toilets that compost waste and an observation window for looking at the fish in the creek.

Royer said he would also like to see some technology in the building, such as an interactive  “smart board”  that students and volunteers can use to monitor hatchery operations and environmental systems.

AMBITIOUS BUT DOABLE

Ambitious? Yes, but “doable,” Royer said, adding that interesting features, such as the crow’s nest — essentially a tree-top observation deck, although attractive and beneficial, will not be costly.  “It’s a very simple log structure. It’s going to look very unique. But it’s not an expensive structure,”  he said.

The education centre, with its ground-floor hatchery and second-floor classroom/meeting space, will also be handicap-accessible from the parking area with a ramp built into the slope of the land.

Pat Dennett, the volunteer construction manager, would like to see the project “shovel-ready” by October and open by spring 2015. But many details need to be worked out, in addition to the challenge of raising money from the community.

Among those details: The insurance settlement must be finalized and BIMES needs to sign off on lease agreements with the city of Port Moody for the land and Imperial Oil for the access road.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, although supportive of the group’s efforts, will expect the hatchery and building to be low-impact because it’s so close to the creek. And the group needs to meet city standards for its development permit.

The hatchery building area is not huge, and a landscaped filtration pond with a portal for children to view the fish may be a challenge to build but it’s not an outrageous idea, said Dennett, although alterations may be necessary. For now, everything is on the table, and money, of course, is the critical issue.

“I want to be prepared,” said the retired businessman and construction manager. “The next most important step is to get proper funding. We have to have the money to proceed.”

CONTRIBUTIONS COMING IN

The group has had at least one early win: Lafarge has agreed to be a senior partner for the project and will donate the concrete and formwork as part of its environmental certification efforts.

“They are taking a lead worldwide to put themselves ahead of the competitors to show that they are doing things in the community to fit their three pillars of environment, sustainability and education,” Dennett said, noting that Lafarge’s aims fit well with BIMES’ mandate.

Dennett and Royer say they are part of an incredible team that is enthusiastic about every aspect of the project — from fundraising to construction as well as looking after the salmon while the hatchery is in hiatus.

Said Royer: “I think the community is going to rise to the challenge. We have big grant applications in process and a lot of offers have been made.”

If all goes well, by this time next year, the project should be well on its way to completion.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

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