On Friday, some of the Aqua-Tex staff and myself drove two and a half hours west from Victoria to what my advisor Patrick Lucey described as “the end of the road”. We were on our way to a town called Port Renfrew, which is the western most town in southern Vancouver Island and one of the most western places in all of Canada. About an hour before arriving, all cell service disappeared. The reason for this trip was to meet a developer with great plans for the small town, which lacks much of any industry but has incredible location and geography. His vision was essentially to create a main street from scratch and turn the town into a tourist destination. The street that will eventually become main street has a creek running underneath it, triumphantly named Defiance Creek. Rather than seeing the creek as a liability for the regulations that come along with it, the developer saw it as a great asset. It’s always a pleasure working with developers who understand that in order to have any long-term success, the ecology of a potential site must be established and considered each step of the development process. Developers that design with nature rather than against nature tend to see much more prosperity.
After this discussion we walked the creek and performed an informal Proper Functioning Condition (PFC) assessment (see previous post), which determined the creek to be, on first glance, not-functioning. This was mostly due to a neglected dam and a large part of the stream being channelized, which is understood by the EPA as “Straightening and deepening streams so water will move faster, a marsh-drainage tactic that can interfere with waste assimilation capacity, disturb fish and wildlife habitats, and aggravate flooding”. While walking the creek we stumbled upon the stump of a tree estimated by my colleagues to have been over a 1,000 years old when it was logged roughly one hundred years ago. The picture below is of Tracy, who is a scientist with Aqua-Tex and Lucas who is an engineering student from Brazil and Aqua-Tex’s newest intern, which actually gives me some seniority around the office.
After the stream assessment was completed we drove to the literal and figurative “end of the road” found in Botanical Beach Provincial Park, though unfortunately there was too much fog for a photo-op of any value. On the ride back we engaged in an important discussion regarding the focus of my research which will ultimately culminate in a comparison of two properties that Aqua-Tex has consulted on located on one road but in different municipalities and different watersheds. I will conduct a case study on these two sites examining green infrastructure (GI) techniques and which ecosystem services (ES) these techniques provide. Once that has been established I will then compare the cost and service effectiveness of GI to examples of built infrastructure on these sites in an effort to build a business case for why GI should be more prevalent in development. If there’s enough time left after I’ve done this I will look into the relationship between GI and housing prices using hedonic analysis.