Wilkes Creek Watershed
- 13th largest watershed in Port Moody (out of 16) (Robertson 2000).
- Discharges into the Port Moody Arm of Burrard Inlet.
- Bordered to the west by the Hett Creek watershed, to the east by the Turner Creek watershed, to the north by the Village of Anmore, and to the south by the Port Moody Arm of Burrard Inlet. The northeast corner of the watershed falls within the Village of Anmore boundaries.
- Effective catchment area has increased from 87.9 ha (natural) to 104.2 ha by stormwater drainage from developed areas in adjacent watersheds (GVRD 1999).
- Average annual watershed precipitation is 1986 mm (GVRD 1999).
- Average annual watershed flow is 1479 mm, with an additional 678 mm from stormwater runoff. When the entire catchment is included (not just the natural watershed), stormwater runoff increases to 727 mm (GVRD 1999).
- In 1996 11.3% of the watershed was developed and impervious to water. 80% of riparian forest is intact. The 1996 GVS&DD watershed classification was 'Good' (GVS&DD 1999).
- In general, the area encompassed by this watershed lies on significant (35%-100%), south-southwest facing slopes with deep, nutrient-rich soils.
- Wilkes Creek originates as sidehill runoff near the Port Moody / Anmore boundary and flows south-southwest for 1.75 km to the Port Moody Arm of Burrard Inlet. The upper section is low gradient and runs through poorly defined channels which flood during rainfall events, allowing for groundwater storage. The lower section has a steeper gradient characterized by stable streambeds with boulder and cobble substrate.
- Area was logged between 1920-1940 following completion of the "Climax" high-grade locomotive and railway (City of Port Moody website).
- Coastal Cutthroat Troat (Onchorhynchus clarki clarki) and Coho (Onchorhynchus kisutch) inhabited the lower section of Wilkes Creek until the early 1970's when major stream alterations rendered the stream uninhabitable (Dunster and AXYS 1999).
- Industrial activities have polluted the marine environment of Port Moody Arm into which Wilkes Creek flows, leading Environment Canada to identify this area as an "environmental hotspot" in 1992 (Dunster and AXYS 1999). These pollutants include the metals cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, and zinc (originating from metal coating, plastic stabilizers, paint pigments, and, to a lesser extent, pesticides and sewage), as well as organic compounds like oil and grease hydrocarbons and polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (originating from petroleum facilities). Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, used to produce plastics, inks, paints and pesticides but banned since the mid-1970s) persist in low concentrations throughout Port Moody Arm. In 1987, all of these pollutants occured in the highest concentrations near the Ioco refinery, decreasing in concentration towards Indian Arm and the Port Moody tidal flats (Environment Canada 1989).
- The upper section of the watershed was recommended for designation as an environmentally sensitive area in 2000 (Robertson 2000). Bert Flinn Park was dedicated in 2002 and includes part of this area.
- Residential: predominantly single-family residential houses with some condominiums.
- Institutional: a portion of the upper headwaters area has been set aside by the City of Port Moody "future community park and secondary school". Site clearing for school construction began in 2002.
- Parks and recreation: Bert Flinn Park, Foxwood Park, Wilkes Creek Ravine, part of the North Shore Escarpment, and Old Orchard Park, are all within this watershed.
- CP Rail has a right-of-way near the stream mouth.
- Fish: the lowest 10 meters of Wilkes Creek (from culvert to mouth) is seasonally inhabited by juvenile salmonids likely originating from Noons and/or Mossom Creek. A fish sampling program performed for the City of Port Moody in December of 2000 failed to find fish, but prickly sculpin (Cottus asper) may inhabit this stream (Jacques Whitford 2001).
- Wildlife: coyote, black bear, cougar, bobcat, mule deer, Douglas squirrel, red-back vole, deer mouse, Northwestern salamander and Pacific tree frog are among the more prominent terrestrial animals (Dunster and AXYS 1999).
- Birds: a diverse bird assemblage includes several species of woodpeckers and raptors, American dipper, and, near the mouth of Wilkes Creek, shorebirds, waterfowl, and blue heron (Dunster and AXYS 1999, Jacques Whitford 2001). Historically, 131 bird species are known to inhabit the Port Moody area (Burke Mountain Naturalists 1994).
- Vegetation: Presently a secondary growth forest ranging in age from 60-80 years. Trees are a mix of western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), western red cedar (Thuja plicata), red alder (Alnus rubra), broad-leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) and vine maple (Acer corcinatum). The understory is predominantly salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis), sword fern (Polystichum munitum) and huckleberry (Vaccinium spp.) (Dunster and AXYS 1999). A diverse assemblage of species associated with wetlands exists in the upper portion of the watershed (ECL Envirowest 1994, 1997). Several plant communities are present which are of special concern (see below).
- Culverts: The first 300 meters of the creek mouth where gradients are low and stream profiles favorable was important fish habitat. This section is now almost completely culverted from Ioco Road until it 'daylights' below Alderside Road, 10 meters above the creek mouth. Additional culverts are present at David Avenue (to Foxwood Park), Heritage Mountain Boulevard, and Parkside Drive. None of these culverts are passable by salmonids. These along with other major stream alterations (rip-rap armoring, gabion banks, channelisation, storm sewer drainage) have rendered the stream uninhabitable to salmonids.
- Stormwater: The developed area of the watershed is predicted to increase from 11.3% in 1996 to 41.9% in 2036. This is predicted to increase average annual watershed flow from 1479 mm to 1597 mm (GVRD 1999). More importantly, average annual stormwater runoff is predicted to increase from 678 mm to 1061 mm (GVRD 1999). The predicted GVS&DD watershed classification falls from 'Good' in 1996 to 'Fair' in 2036 as the increase in the relative contribution of stormwater to Wilkes Creek could increase peak stream flows and introduce water quality issues (GVS&DD 1999).
- Plant communities of concern: the Western hemlock-flat moss and the Douglas fir / Western hemlock-salal commounities are present in this watershed and are provincially blue-listed (of special concern), while the Douglas fir / sword fern community is also present and is provincially red-listed (endangered) (Robertson 2000). Wetland species in the northwest corner of the watershed are especially sensitive to changes in the water table (ECL Envirowest 1994, 1997).
- Animal species of concern: Great blue herons are provincially blue-listed (of special concern) (Dunster and AXYS 1999).
- Construction of Secondary School above David Avenue could cause sedimentation problems, although the City of Port Moody's required 15 metre building set-back from the stream should help to alleviate this (City of Port Moody Planning Department 1992).
Key Interest Groups
- Municipal Government: City of Port Moody, Village of Anmore
- Regional: GVRD, GVS&DD
- Provincial Government: Ministry of Transportation and Highways; Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks; Burrard Inlet Environmental Action Program
- Federal Government: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada, Transport Canada
- Local NGO's: Port Moody Ecological Society
- BC Rail
- Various private landowners and occupants
- School District #43
- Ongoing water quality and fecal coliform monitoring by Port Moody Ecological Society.
Bibliography and Available Sources of Information
- Port Moody Public Library. 604 469 4577.
- Port Moody Ecological Society Library. 604 469 9106.
- City of Port Moody Environmental Services. 604 469 4676.
- City of Port Moody website. http://www.cityofportmoody.com/
- Burke Mountain Naturalists. 1994. Wildlife Inventory of the Shoreline Park System, Port Moody, BC. Prepared for the City of Port Moody and the Burrard Inlet Environmental Action Program.
- City of Port Moody Planning Department. 1992. Summary of the Proposed New Official Community Plan for Port Moody. Prepared by the Community Planning Advisory Committee.
- Dunster and Associates Environmental Consultants Ltd., and AXYS Environmental Consulting Ltd. 1999. City of Port Moody Environmentally Sensitive Areas Management Strategy. Phase 1: An Inventory of Natural Areas. Prepared for the City of Port Moody.
- ECL Environmental Consultants Ltd. 1994. An Environmental Assessment of Neigbourhoods 3 and 4, Port Moody, BC. Unpublished Report Prepared for the City of Port Moody.
- ECL Environmental Consultants Ltd. 1999. Assessment of Wetlands - Neighbourhood 4, Port Moody, BC. Unpublished Report Prepared for the City of Port Moody.
- Environment Canada. 1989. Distribution and Environmental Impact of Selected Benthic Contaminants in Vancouver Harbour, British Columbia: 1985-1987. Pacific and Yukon Region Program Report 89-02.
- Greater Vancouver Regional District. 1999. Watershed flows and stormwater runoff: estimates for 1996 & 2036.
- Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District. 1999. Assessment of Current and Futrure GVS&DD Area Watersged and Catchment Conditions.
- Robertson Environmental Services Ltd. 2000. City of Port Moody Environmentally Sensitive Areas Management Strategy. Phase 2: Development of Management Recommendations. Prepared for the City of Port Moody.