Watercourse Stewardship

Watercourse Stewardship On Residential Lands

Several watercourses in Belcarra flow through residential areas – which creates challenges for the streams as well as for homeowners. Much of Belcarra’s land base was subdivided and developed long before stream protection was a priority. Streams were straightened or buried to ease development and improve drainage. Yards were cleared to the creek edge, streams were diverted to create water features, and stream banks were ‘hardened’ when erosion occurred. We now know that these practices are often harmful to fish and other aquatic life. This guide is about what property owners can do to help protect and restore our watercourses.

Keep The Streamside Vegetation

We often have the urge to make everything trim and neat in the yard, but that isn’t always the best thing next to a stream. Natural vegetation provides bank stability, shade, temperature control, food and shelter for fish and wildlife:

  • Make streamside plants part of your landscaping scheme. A 15-30 metre strip of trees, shrubs and deep-rooted plants is considered ideal, but lesser buffers are just as vital to the health of a stream. Turf grass is not a good choice as it provides little shade or cover, and its short roots don’t hold soil well.
  • Use native plants as much as possible. They are well adapted to Pacific Northwest conditions, and provide the food and nutrients that fish, birds and other creek-dwellers need. Remember that these plants will still need care after planting, until they become established.
  • Erosion First Aid

    While some erosion is natural, excessive erosion smothers creek bottoms and destroys stream banks. You lose property and fish and wildlife lose a home:

  • Retain vegetation along the stream bank. Plants absorb water from the soil and their roots stabilize the bank.
  • Avoid adding weight (buildings, driveways, walls) close to a streambank; it may cause slumping.
  • Limit your access to the stream, and design pathways so that they don’t cause erosion or destabilize the bank; keep them narrow, use permeable surfaces (see below), and avoid a straight line down to the stream.
  • If you already have an erosion problem, try to use vegetation-based methods before considering expensive retaining walls and other hard structures. Check with Belcarra Public Works personnel for advice.
  • Drainage and Runoff

    Whenever buildings, pavement and other hard surfaces replace natural vegetation, it affects watercourses. Rain no longer filters slowly through the soil, but rather runs off quickly into downspouts and storm drains which then empty into streams:

  • Manage runoff from paths and downspouts by dispersing it over a vegetated area. DON’T discharge your stormdrain to the top of a ravine or streambank because it can cause erosion and slumping.
  • Minimize paved and other hard surfaces. Use soft or “permeable” materials for paths, parking and patios, such as gravel, paving stones, concrete lattice, and decking.
  • Stream Cleanup and Enhancement

    Human-made garbage can foul habitat and looks ugly. However, natural debris – rocks, logs, aquatic vegetation – helps protect the bank from erosion and provides food and cover for wildlife:

  • Remove the human garbage but leave the natural debris in place – unless it’s blocking water flow and threatening to flood. Contact the Village right away in that case.
  • Dams and poorly designed culverts can block fish passage and worsen erosion problems. Avoid creating these barriers, and contact the Village if you want to modify or remove an existing one.
  • Want to build a bridge across a stream? Check first with the Village. The design should disturb the vegetation as little as possible, and not put any posts in the stream itself.
  • Water Quality

    What goes on the land and down a storm drain or into a ditch ends-up in a watercourse:

  • Dispose of antifreeze, waste oils, paint, solvents, etc., at a recycling or hazardous waste disposal site. DON’T pour them into or near a watercourse or into a storm drain.
  • Use fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides sparingly (follow the directions) and NEVER apply within 15 m of a watercourse.
  • Empty pools and hot tubs into a proper drainage-pit well away from storm drains and watercourses.
  • Pets Around Watercourses

    Pets are great, but they can chase and harass wildlife and their droppings can contaminate watercourses:

  • Don’t dump pet wastes “over the bank” or near a watercourse. Use baggies to pick-up after your pet in public areas and dispose of wastes responsibly.
  • Keep your pet on a leash near streams, shores and wetlands.
  • Questions?

    If you have any questions about Watercourse Stewardship On Residential Lands, contact Belcarra's Public Works Superintendent Larry Scott at 604-937-4100 or visit the Village Office at:

    Belcarra Municipal Hall
    4084 Bedwell Bay Road
    Belcarra, BCV3H 4P8

    Monday to Friday
    9:00 am to 4:00 pm

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    Village of Belcarra
    4084 Bedwell Bay Road
    Belcarra, BCCANADA
    V3H 4P8

    E-mail: belcarra@belcarra.ca
    Tel: (604) 937-4100
    Fax: (604) 939-5034
    Office Hours:Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm,
    (excluding statutory holidays).


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