A $4 million compensation package from the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) has transformed an aquatic area at Seal Cove degraded by a century of industrial and human activity into a thriving salt marsh.
The port authority invested the funding to compensate for impacts on marine and other life that occurred when it built the Fairview-Ridley Connector Corridor, a key industrial transportation link, a PRPA press release on April 28 stated.
The newly revitalized Seal Cove Salt Marsh officially opened to the public in a grand celebration co-hosted by the City of Prince Rupert, North Coast Ecology Centre Society, and PRPA on April 23.
The afternoon festivities coincided with the recognition of World Earth Day. Despite inclement weather, the opening saw more than a dozen organizations taking part in the family-friendly event, which included tours, activities and giveaways.
Ken Veldman, vice president of public affairs and sustainability for the PRPA, said the project confirms the energy and enthusiasm that brings the community to life.
“We were thrilled to see so many Rupertites brave the elements to join the celebration on Saturday. The outpouring of community group participation driven by dedicated volunteers to make … the event a reality is a testament to the excitement for this new community waterfront asset,” he said.
The Seal Cove Salt Marsh project overhauled the area by regenerating the fish habitat and establishing a new recreation attraction for the community on the city’s waterfront property.
Extensive work was required to restore natural aquatic vegetation. To rebuild the ecosystem, improvements to regrade the intertidal areas, transplanting eelgrass and other underwater plants to create new fish habitats and other aquatic species were completed. An existing creek that was previously hidden in a culvert was exposed, with additional shoreline vegetation added to develop more places for birds and other wildlife to forage, breed, and nest.
Additionally, a lit pathway, pedestrian bridge, picnic tables and seating area were installed. The 600-metre walkway encircling the marsh was designed to have year-round access with links to Rushbrook Trail.
“We are happy to see this component of the Redesign Rupert 2030 Vision Plan coming to life, especially the dedicated public space,” Lee Brain, mayor of Prince Rupert said. “When we unveiled the plan, this community space and revitalization project in Seal Cove was one of the early deliverables. We are glad to have been able to see it through for the community thanks to investment from the Port of Prince Rupert.”
“In collaboration with the City of Prince Rupert, the Seal Cove site was selected as it presented an opportunity to meet both PRPA’s environmental compliance obligations and the needs of the community at large. The city will undertake the ongoing maintenance of the pathway and picnic areas,” the press release stated.
Veronika Stewart city communications managers said the ongoing costs for maintenance will be included in the annual operating budget on a go-forward basis.
“The lion’s share of the cost of this project was borne by PRPA, in exchange for their use of city property to complete their habitat restoration project. Costs to the city for fencing as well as legal fees, estimated to be approximately $150,000 combined, were absorbed into the City’s existing annual budget for these items,” she said.
“The measures undertaken to revitalize the Seal Cove Salt Marsh are a clear example of the PRPA’s commitment to minimize the environmental impacts of port activity and share the benefits of our trade gateway with the community that enables it,” Shaun Stevenson, president and CEO of PRPA said. “It is incredible to see the transformation that has taken place in Seal Cove in regard to addressing ecological sustainability while simultaneously meeting the community’s call for greater waterfront access and recreational opportunities.”
“PRPA wishes to extend our thanks to everyone that made the event a success and to all those that contributed to the Seal Cove Salt Marsh revitalization project,” Veldman said. “It has been our privilege to lead this project, and we hope it will serve as a popular waterfront attraction that brings residents and visitors alike closer to the natural habitat of this beautiful area we call home.”