Thanks to the kindness of the community, the Goldstream Fish Hatchery is improving its facility and, with it, the ability to provide conservation education.
Work is underway at the 32-year-old hatchery, located in a fenced-in area off Sooke Lake Road, to replace a breezeway used for egg collection and to build a shelter for visiting students to stand under in bad weather.
“We finally decided that we’ve got to do some kind of construction project here and essentially we had to rip the whole thing down and start again,” volunteer Phil Graydon said.
On Jan. 11, a group of volunteers from FortisBC visited the hatchery (also known as the Howard French hatchery) to help tear down an old side building, bust up and remove a concrete slab and prepare the area for new construction.
“We do projects like this quite frequently,” said Carol Greaves, community relations manager for FortisBC. “They’re all so dedicated and so completely committed to the salmon population. I was absolutely blown away.”
“They came out here and they worked like dogs, for the entire day,” Graydon said. “We consider ourselves extremely fortunate here.”
Next up is installing a proper slab, with a heavy-duty drain, followed by construction of the building, with materials coming at a reduced cost from Slegg Lumber.
A grant from the Pacific Salmon Foundation, a FortisBC donation of $10,000 and volunteer labour are also helping bring the project to fruition.
The room being built will be used for egg preparation before incubation. The breezeway there before was used for the same purpose, but now volunteers will be able to take on the process in an enclosed room.
One end of the room will feature a roll-up door which will open up to the new shelter, giving visiting students a chance to view the process from a dry area.
“We’ve designed this so that the kids can get a hands-on experience during all types of weather,” said hatchery technical advisor Peter McCully. “This will be purpose built for education. The importance of this hatchery is arguably the education as well as the enhancement.”
There’s no rest for the wicked at the hatchery, said McCully, the only paid staff member at the facility. Right now the eggs are incubating and in a few weeks will be transported as hatched fish to outdoor ponds. The fish will be fed and allowed to grow until June, when they will then be released into the wild.
“(The hatchery) is always a beehive of activity, it’s just changing and it’s dynamic,” McCully said.
Anyone interested in donating or volunteering at the hatchery can call 250-474-6698 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.