Oak Bay High students and Environmental Club members Sema Hamidi

Oak Bay High students and Environmental Club members Sema Hamidi

No lame ducks at Oak Bay High

Bowker Creek event celebrates 15 years

Oak Bay High students are getting their ducks in a row as they prepare for the 15th annual Rubber Duck Race and Bowker Creek Clean-up this Sunday (May 5).

The school’s Environmental Club hosts the yearly event to raise money for restoration work by the Bowker Creek Initiative.

Students are selling rubber duckies at the high school and in the community leading up to the event. The ducks are each numbered and the proud owners then race their ducks down the creek starting at 1 p.m. at St. Ann’s Pond (across from the Oak Bay Fire Hall).

It’s by no means a high-speed aquatic grand prix; the rubber duckies sometimes need a little nudge to get going, but despite the slow pace, the excitement level is high.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Grade 12 student Grace Hatherill.

Last year, about 80 people turned out for an event as useful to the group’s cause as it was entertaining to the participants.

The Bowker Creek Initiative is committed to restoring the ecosystem of the creek and works with many community groups and municipalities to make that happen.

Anyone willing to lend a hand is welcome to come and help remove trash from the waterway starting at 11 a.m. It’s not uncommon to find anything from bottles and bicycles to shopping carts that have been tossed into the creek, said Hatherill.

“There’s just a lot of crap that we pull out and then sort,” she said. “We have such a beautiful creek next door to the school, it makes sense to take care of it.”

With the new school planned for Oak Bay, there are plans to return some of the waterway’s habitat bordering the school to a more natural state. There is also the hope for natural learning spaces where the school can use the creek to help educate students about ecosystems and the environment.

“The idea there is if you restore one portion of it, you have one area where you might be able to return some of the diversity to what it once was,” said Oak Bay High teacher and enviro club sponsor Derek Shrubsole.

As a duck takes to water, so too has this group of students taken to championing the environment and the creek. The high school’s Environment Club has about 20 members and organizes the school’s recycling program, along with spearheading initiatives such as the duck race.

“These guys really have that connection to the creek and with their neighbourhood,” said Shrubsole. “From here it translates into how they view the world around them.”

The winning ducky will earn its owner a blue recycling bin containing gifts from local businesses.

Anyone interested in purchasing a rubber ducky to race can call Shrubsole at Oak Bay High (250-598-3361), or purchase one at the event. The price is “one duck for two bucks.”

The Bowker Creek Initiative will be on hand at the event to talk about their rehabilitation objectives and the future of the creek.

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