Despite what the rumor mill may be circulating, no, the Toboggan Creek Fish Hatchery is not closed.
“We had some issues with budget for a little while but [Fisheries and Oceans Canada] has been really helpful with us, and really behind us, and helping us move forward, basically. With their help, and the help of the community, we’re going to do a bit of fundraising and grant-writing, things like that. We’re going to stay open,” manager Kris Bulloch said.
Bulloch, who recently took the manager position, said he wants to change the perception that the hatchery is closed, and encourage the community to become more involved.
“We are open to wanting help and volunteers, and wanting people to get involved with salmon. Especially with the way salmon is right now, and the way it’s in the public eye. People are concerned about salmon and a big portion of our hatchery is to educate as well,” Bulloch said.
He also said the hatchery is already going through some improvements and changes to encourage more traffic, including a reconstruction of their fish fence that is set to be finished this summer.
“It’s mostly done. The in-stream work is done, which is the part we needed to get done after the spring thaw and before the steelhead show up. Because, basically, as soon as the steelhead show up then the chinook show up, then the coho show up, and then it’s winter. There’s a very small in-stream window margin. So, we got that done, and then in July we’ll have finished the above-ground stuff. Then August, we start assessing fish,” Bulloch said.
“The fence has been there since the early ‘80s, and it was built out of wood. It was only supposed to be there for a certain amount of years but the hatchery surpassed those years of functioning. That fence was basically falling apart – it ripped out two times last year, we had to re-build it three times in the high water. It was kind of due to become repaired anyways. Now it’s a new steel structure that has a 40 or 50-year lifespan, and it’s going to be safe and functional. It’s nice to get the wood out of the river, too,” he added.
Bulloch said the construction process has been “crazy.”
“[Fisheries and Oceans Canada] was the main contractor on it, and basically what they did is they built a dam out of rock bags and plastic. Then we got a water pumping contractor, and they actually diverted the flow of the creek completely around the site. Then we just excavated the old bridge out … and put a new steel structure in that was fabricated. Once we get all that in, then you let all the water back through, and they do silt control and everything downstream.”
Bulloch said they also plan to reinforce a trail on site and turn it into an interpretive nature walk.
He encourages any visitors or volunteers to stop by.
“We’re open seven days a week; if the gate’s open, come on down. We love the public coming around.”