Let’s talk about the Burde Street Beaver Ponds

There are two unique ponds way up Burde Street by the Log Train Trail. I think most local people have heard of them. They are unique for several reasons. Being just off the Log Train Trail, they are very accessible and because of that they get an enormous amount of visitors, particularly since the pandemic started. These ponds are an ideal location for students, and the public to watch wildlife and learn the basics of the natural world. They have beavers in them, a variety of colourful ducks year-round, and Western Painted Turtles. These turtles are listed as endangered by COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) because of major loss of wetlands and a rapid increase in roads, development, and people. The lower one has an additional unique feature in that a ring of Yellow Flag, or Iris grows around the edge of it. The Yellow Flag is highly invasive. But it provides a spectacular display of colour in May. Beside this pond is a spot with a wonderful wrought iron bench is chained to a root and provides a relaxing view of the pond. My thanks to “Frank”, who must have placed it there. He tells us to enjoy the pond in a note written on the back of it.

The property around them was once considered semi-rural. But since the city extended their boundary to end of the road, a lot of houses have been built on the other side of the street, with more under construction.

I spoke to a real estate agent about the property. He seemed to know something about it. But he said he was bound by confidentiality in being able speak to plans for property.  However, he was able to say that he was impressed that the owners are looking to develop the area in a greener manner than has ever been tried here. He further said that they would be announcing proposed plans for the property, along with another property west of the Log Train Trail soon.

The beavers in the ponds have been there for years and years. Being the headwaters of a creek known locally as Wolf Creek, the beavers likely followed the creek up from Roger Creek. Two beaver dams are located where the upper pond empties into a creek that feeds the lower pond, that in turn, empties under the Log Train Trail, where more dams are located. When they moved in and built them, the beavers raised the level of the ponds. As a result, large trees died around the edges providing homes for a variety of, first, woodpeckers, and then swallows, starlings, Hooded Mergansers and Wood Ducks. It is the beaver that maintain the water level of the ponds with their activities. If they should be so disturbed by development that they leave, or die for some reason, the dams will eventually break and the water levels will drop significantly.

The north edge of the property is the City Limit. Beyond that is the Hupacasath’s Woodlot Licence. It provides older forest and a wilder habitat connection to both ponds, particularly the upper pond, because the pond extends about 50 meters into the Woodlot.

From a regulatory perspective, the entire property except for the ponds and a small area around the lower one is proposed for Future Residential in the City’s Community Plan. And the Zoning map shows low density multiple family residential around the upper pond with lower density single family residential being further away from them. To reduce the activity around the ponds, it should be the reverse with the multiple family residential being further away.  In fact development between the two ponds should not occur. And to that end I suggest that part of this property could be subdivided and offered to an organization such as The Land Conservancy of BC, or Ducks Unlimited for safe keeping. A community campaign to purchase the property could support the offer.

Being modestly more remote, the upper pond is the more sensitive of the two. It is where the turtles live and where the most ducks spend their time. This zoning map shows how fragile the future wildlife in the ponds is.

I know I am not the only one who is concerned about the effect of future development in the area. I have heard rumblings from various people. And the real estate agent I spoke to added verification to it when he acknowledged that he has heard them too. Here we are playing with the headwaters of a highly endangered fish creek that drains into another highly endangered fish creek, Roger Creek. The area is also very popular with the public as it is part of a highly developed network of trails and is used for walking dogs, woodland running, and childhood adventures. City council needs to reconsider its planning for this area before considering any plans put forward by a developer.

22 Comments

  1. Thank you for writting this article. We are also very concerned about this area and the intrution to the nature and all it means in the world.. We live in this area and all new people moving from various places ( from Fort st. John to Vancouver and victoria areas ALL say how wonderful to enjoy the tails and ponds in this area. Please don’t destroy it!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As kids in the 1950s we skated on the ponds which in those years seemed to freeze every winter for extended periods of time. We would hike from South Port via the railway.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It could be our Stanley Park if we had the foresight to protect it. We have been taking our wilderness for granted, and it is disappearing all around us.

    Like

  3. i walk my dogs there almost ever day and also mountain bike the trails this whole area needs to be protected.

    Like

  4. This is a special area within the city.
    Thoughtfull and responsible development can retain the natural beauty of the area and enhance our community at the same time. I am very interested to see what a possible
    developer proposes.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is truly a beautiful area which I believe needs to be protected. Perhaps instead of spending money on the proposed quay to quay walkway, the city could invest in this piece of land and designate it as a nature park. A park of this nature is far more valuable than a subdivision.

    Like

  6. This property is a community gem and together with the established trail system should be viewed as a necessary component of the city plan. The city should work hard with the owner and developer to ensure it remains the gem it is.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi, first of all let me say thank you so much for this article! It’s amazing and exciting to see people go to bat for beavers and wetlands! Second, I own Vanisle Wetlands, a small wetland management and beaver co-existence company based in Port Alberni and I am willing to help you in any way you need! Please feel free to reach out in you need.
    Chris

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for bringing this to the forefront. It is important for people to know this. We all enjoy this beautiful forest filled with ecological wonders.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Most humans continually undervalue our natural environment. Its heartbresking. We must have protected areas….humans are the ones who must adapt….not nature. Think…discuss….engage…brainstorm…..think it through……be brave…..work together….think of the world you want your grandchildren to have.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for the article Sandy. This is clearly a special place that deserves protection. Development is important and wonderful for our valley, but conserving our important green spaces is vital.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I hope that the developers see the opportunity to contact people/businesses like the above, Chris Holtstag(thank you) and SAVE this natural beauty. It really could become Port Alberni’s Stanley Park – if treated correctly! I love that awareness is being raised to hopefully cause enough chaos and bring forward resolution to keep the site as is – natural! Born and raised in Port Alberni, not far from the ponds, I would like to think the children that are growing up there now – will be afforded the same amazing childhoods we were – exploring, learning and coexisting with nature… Thank you for this article!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Oh please, leave the forest for the community to have somewhere to walk and nurture their mental health. This is a very well used space and has such a positive impact.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I very much hope that is excellent article about this beautiful area and all the comments are listened to. So hope that this beautiful area is saved for all to enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

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