It's almost finished and the fish are coming.
That's the promise as one of the last major structural items on the Mossom Creek Hatchery rebuild was completed and the new hatchery equipment installed.
A green roof, provided by Architek Engineered Solutions for Living Buildings, was planted on a cold but sunny winter day two weeks ago. Plumbing and wiring for coho tubs, incubator trays and monitoring equipment is just about finished.
Now, volunteers are getting ready to accept coho and chum salmon fry in tanks and tubs they have been preparing for weeks.
Project co-ordinator Pat Dennett, one of a bevy of volunteers working on the hatchery's resurrection, is fond of saying "We're on schedule and on budget" and he can continue to say those words as the fish hatchery, built with $1.15 million in community, business and government donations and in-kind services, gets ready to resume operations.
Within days, the first chum fry from the Alouette River and the first coho fry from Noons Creek are expected to arrive.
Then the work of caring for the fish begins.
"We're pretty excited," Dennett told The Tri-City News during a tour of the facility.
Several months of planning and construction are coming to fruition but for retired educator and Mossom hatchery founder Ruth Foster, one of the biggest moments of the rebuild was the installation of the green roof.
With gardening trowel in hand, she joined green roof designer and contractor Ron Schwenger and landscape installer Tania Xenis of Green Elevations, as well as other nursery workers and volunteers, to dig in the plants.
With 21 yards of soil media (a substance made up of organic material, lava rock, pumice and sand) plus clusters of tiny seedlings, the roof looks a bit like a nursery with a whimsical touch: a salmon design sketched out with river rock and native ferns.
"Even if the ferns die down if it gets hot or cold, we'll still have the salmon," said Foster, who with Rod MacVicar, started the hatchery nearly 40 years ago as a stream reclamation and education project for their Centennial secondary school students.
Foster and her team from Burrard Inlet Marine and Enhancement Society are thrilled about the roof because it provides more to the local eco-system than a torch-down or shingle roof. In fact, it's much like a tiny forest in the sky, providing energy conservation benefits, reducing greenhouse gases, easing rain runoff, moderating heating and cooling, and contributing to forest biodiversity.
For Foster, it was important to make sure the plants on the roof were native to the area and wouldn't create seeds that could become invasive species later. As a result, many of the plants are those you would find on the forest floor, including ferns and mosses.
A moss-covered log from the forest was put onto the roof in the hopes that the small, flowerless green plant would continue to reproduce by means of spores and give the roof a soft, green covering. The group is also trying out a slurry of moss and buttermilk to see if that will get mosses growing, and ferns and several varieties of sedum, along with wild strawberry, were planted.
"This is a bit of an experiment for us. The real question is how will the ferns do," said Schwenger, whose company provided the roof at a substantially reduced cost - Architek being the latest business to chip in with cash or services to help rebuild Mossom.
At ground level, Dennett is keeping his eye on the installation of the monitoring system, provided by Pentair Aquatic Ecosystems, which will keep track of dissolved oxygen and temperature, important for fish health, and said he is looking forward to the web cams that will soon be put in place so people can watch, from the comfort of their homes, what's going on at the hatchery and in the creek.
The hatchery will once again be a hub of creek stewardship, fish care and environmental education.
And for those who are keeping track, that day is coming soon.
WHAT'S LEFT TO DO
The Mossom Creek hatchery and education rebuilding project in Port Moody has been ongoing for over a year to replace the original hatchery, which burned down in December 2013. Burrard Inlet Marine Enhancement Society, which operates the hatchery, has received numerous grants and in-kind services to rebuild the hatchery and construction is nearly done. Here is the financial picture to date:
total value of donations and in-kind services received to date: $1.15 million;
money needed to complete the hatchery and education centre project: $40,000;
funding needed to provide for annual ongoing operating costs, including education programming: $30,000 annually.
Below: a close-up of a fern and sedum, some of the plants that were recently installed on the Mossom Creek Hatchery green roof, the incubation trays awaiting fish eggs that will be collected from brood stock this fall (with Mel Steemson, volunteer), a photo (by Ruth Foster) of the fish design on the roof, and workers digging the plants into the soil media. Photos by Diane Strandberg/Tri-City News