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Thirty-metre setback proposed to protect Morrison Creek

A Courtenay councillor wants the city to take additional steps in protecting Morrison Creek.

Councillor Doug Hillian wants the city to implement a 30-metre setback from the creek.

His notice of motion reads this would help protect the creek from development pressure, “as natural buffers along streams shrink, putting at risk healthy stream functioning, fish, and wildlife.”

Hillian said the motion is asking for staff to come back to the council with “what the implications would be of adhering to that 30-metre buffer.”

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“The intent certainly is, yes, to protect the creek from development pressures,” Hillian said. “The recognition is that this is a wonderful, intact stream and we want to keep it that way. It’s the last intact stream that we have in the community so we have this opportunity to ensure its protection by adhering to that limit.”

The creek is home to a Morrison Creek Lamprey, a jawless, eel-like fish that is a federally listed endangered species.

It is also a productive salmon stream, producing more fish than all other creeks within the city combined.

This is in large part due to its riparian zone of wetland and treed buffers, which remains largely intact.

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Hillian’s notice of motions notes that the creek’s health and productivity “will be threatened through encroachment by new or infill development into the ‘green infrastructure’ supporting this exceptionally productive stream.”

The notice of motion will be brought back to council members at their Aug. 19th meeting.

Meanwhile, Morrison Creek Streamkeepers president Janet Gemmel told council members on July 15th that previous development is already within 30 metres.

“We need to prevent more encroachment,” she said. “Our streams are a tremendous local asset and a global asset. We have to find room to protect these amazing streams, riparian areas, and the like.”

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