Cory Williamson guides MLA John Rustad and Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen on a tour of the Sturgeon Recovery Centre. The centre will be operational in spring 2014.

Sturgeon centre ahead of schedule, under budget

The Sturgeon Recovery Centre is ahead of schedule could finish with a surplus to go to making it a more attractive site for Vanderhoof.

The Sturgeon Recovery Centre is ahead of schedule, it will be walled up and closed by the third week of November and it could finish with a small surplus to go towards making it a more attractive site for Vanderhoof.

This places it at least a couple weeks ahead of schedule as it was originally to be walled up in December.

“It’s really important to get things closed before the weather gets to be a major problem,” said Don Peterson, president of the Freshwater Fisheries Society of B.C. “Then we can start finishing up inside, doing the interior walls and getting all the electrical and plumbing and those sorts of things done.”

Two weeks ago the Sturgeon Recovery Centre got its river water intake system in place to draw water into the facility. The system draws only a minimal amount of water, taking only 60 litres in the winter and over 200 in the summer.

“It was a big challenge for us to bring it in under budget but thanks to a lot of hard work and creative design work we came up with a solution that worked and it looks like it will function perfectly for the facility,” said Peterson.

Cory Williamson, the Sturgeon Conservation Centre manager, took Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen, MLA John Rustad and Jackie Thomas, land and resources coordinator for Saik’uz, on a tour of the sturgeon facility on Friday, November 1.

Williamson explained that the sturgeon will be kept until they are about a foot long and then their survival rate will be at about 94 to 96 per cent. Which can be adjusted depending on how successful rehabilitating the sturgeon is.

Williamson told the tour that the centre will work similarly to an aquarium, water is kept inside the facility to keep it heated and filtered. The old method draws more water but would cost more to keep heated so operation costs are kept down while initial costs are a little higher.

Because of the water intake system, and where the facility is placed on the river, the current boat launch is no longer feasible. Peterson is willing to give $6,000 to Vanderhoof for the creation of a new boat launch site but Vanderhoof councillors have yet to accept.

The current boat launch was never organized by the District of Vanderhoof, it was always just something that citizens started.

“It’s going to be a challenge to find another space and to accept the responsibility of a boat launch,” said Thiessen. “Nothing comes without its liabilities and responsibilities. We now know, from the government, that we cannot launch boats there in the future, that is a thing of the past. We will need the engagement of boat owners and people in the community to work with council to find another suitable boat launch and to go from there.”

The river gets too shallow where the old boat launch is, so councillors are looking at options that could place the launch nearer to one of the deep sides of the river.

Another problem is the fact that people like to use their recreational vehicles on the river and its banks which tears up the habitat.

“The opportunity for young people to fish and be involved in river activities is really hampered by people who just abuse the environment and landscape of the river by driving vehicles up and down it,” said Thiessen.

The final construction portion of the sturgeon centre will finish up in January and then they will be in the commissioning phase for about five or six weeks. By the end of February or in early March they will be ready to move in and gear up to operate in the spring.

The first sturgeon will be brought into the system later in the spring and they will be producing the first crop of young sturgeon this coming year.

“If there is any extra funding left over our commitment is to do what we can in the way of landscaping the site and making it as attractive as possible for people driving by,” said Peterson.

Councillors of Vanderhoof had expressed their concern to Peterson regarding the stark grey metal siding the building will be made of. Most of the councillors agreed that whatever can be done to pretty the building up would be greatly appreciated by the District of Vanderhoof.

 

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