The provincial government has spearheaded the construction of a new dock at Durrance Lake as part of a broader effort to encourage more urban fishing on Vancouver Island.
The 20-foot long, 10-foot wide dock, complete with seating and aluminum rails, is wheelchair accessible and opens up fishing to just about anyone with a rod and reel.
Scott Silvestri, the project lead and a fisheries biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said the province is improving accessibility to a number of urban lakes across the Island to encourage more people to take up freshwater fishing, in the wake of steady declines over the past 20 years.
“The province is looking at ways to improve access and fishing opportunities for the general public,” Silvestri said. “There are not as many people fishing as there use to be. As a result there’s a lot less money for conservation and recreation.”
About 75 per cent of revenue from fishing licences is funneled back to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation for conservation projects, and to fish stocking programs.
Last year Vancouver Island residents bought about 35,000 residential fishing licences, where in the early 1990s that would have been around 45,000.
Overall, B.C. sells about 70,000 fewer residential fishing licences now than in the early 1990s, which translates into about $3 million less in licence revenues.
“That doesn’t factor in boats, rods and gear,” Silvestri said. “Recent research indicates freshwater fishing (expenditures) are $500 million each year in B.C. That’s more than skiing and golf combined.”
Durrance Lake, which is within Mount Work Regional Park, is the eighth project under the provincial urban lakes infrastructure project.
Silvestri is looking at improving or building docks at other popular lakes in the Capital Region.
Jim Barlow, acting manager for park operations with the Capital Regional District, said the fishing dock at Elk Lake is showing its age and could have its accessibility improved, and its possible Thetis could have an improved fishing area as well.
“If the program is able to continue, there are a few places we we’d like to have similar facilities (as Durrance),” Barlow said. “This is really a wonderful collaboration.”
The Durrance Lake dock has been in operation for a few months, and feedback is positive, Silvestri said. In years past fishing at the popular lake required casting from shore.
“Every time I go out there people are fishing and using it. People I run into are glad their money from fishing licences goes toward things like this,” he said.
The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation chipped in $16,000 and the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. gave $4,000 to pay for the dock. CRD parks chipped in $17,000 worth of in-kind work to prepare and excavate the ground and to install the cedar fence.
For more on Durrance Lake, check out crd.bc.ca/parks/mountwork.