Why are we doing this work?

Penticton Creek needs flood protection upgrades. The standards of the 1950’s when channelization for flood protection occurred are much different today. Restoring flood protection works without consideration of fish habitat would not be supported. We have the opportunity now to provide the flood protection required while restoring the Creek to a more natural state that can support the return of fish. In addition to planning for flood and fish habitat there are a number of key considerations that we have taken into account.


Didn’t the City already do restoration work on Penticton Creek in 2015?

In 2015, the Penticton Creek Restoration Committee recommended the restoration of a portion of the creek. The “Showcase” site was chosen to address severe maintenance issues, as well as to show the community the benefits of well-designed flood protection and incorporation of natural fish habitat.

The 83 metre Showcase restoration can be viewed upstream from the Ellis Street Bridge. Concrete was removed, and the creek bottom was widened from 6 to 8 metres with river cobble installed to create pools and riffles to allow for fish passage. The project overcame multiple challenges including relocating all water and fish, installing containment dams and diversion pipes, limited site access, a short work window, and low availability of river rock. Still, it was completed in the planned construction window by local contractors and was on budget.

Physical restoration works held strong during significant 2017 flows, and presence of more fish indicate improved habitat. In general, the project success has spurred further planning around the 4.5 kilometres of Penticton Creek’s urban passage from Okanagan Lake to Penticton Dam #2.

How long will the restoration take?

Each phase of reconstruction will have a short construction window due to weather and fish considerations. As such the City should plan well in advance for necessary permits, consultation, procurement, funding and further design.

Restoring Penticton Creek is a multi-phase undertaking that will occur over the next many decades. As our work transforms the creek, we’ll reassess our plan to ensure it still makes sense for flood protection and fish habitat.

How much will restoration of Penticton Creek cost?

Penticton Creek flood protection measures are a core piece of our City’s safety infrastructure and the Creek itself is an important cultural amenity. Action, along with money, are needed to address deteriorating infrastructure. Under today’s standards, flood protection works without fish consideration would not be supported. This gives us the chance to provide the required flood protection while restoring the creek to a more natural state. The benefit of this approach also allows us to access funds from significant conservation and habitat agencies to carry out our infrastructure restoration. Our plan carefully considers how this $30 million dollar, multi-phase project can be funded over the next decades. It is clear that diverse funding options need to be sought as the costs are too large for any single agency. As well, the City can leverage any investment it makes in the Creek to garner outside funds. Over the last three years, costs of restoration have been almost 75% funded from outside City coffers.

As well as partnering with outside grant and Foundation Funds (Provincial and Federal), we will work to partner with stewardship and non-profit groups to access private and government funds. Other options for funding include:

  • Potential Storm Water Utility income

  • Future Asset Management Plan could incorporate natural assets

  • Reserve establishment and contributions to provide an anchor source of funding.

  • Establish and Endowment Fund for public donations.

  • South Okanagan Conservation Fund

  • Property Tax Incentives

    We also understand that we need to be prepared for construction funding but also for monitoring and maintenance funding.

Why not return the creek to a completely natural state?

Restoring the creek to its natural, meandering state would be ideal but not practical due to varied land uses surrounding the creek, including parks, commercial and residential areas and roads and walkways. Flood protection can be achieved within the narrow corridor in balance with introducing natural habitat features. Opportunities to expand the floodplain area where public lands occur may be something on which the community would like to have input.

Will this affect any private property?

To properly plan for flood protection and access for maintenance, historic City Councils defined a corridor adjacent to the creek for flood protection measures and where flood infrastructure was constructed. Three plans, established through bylaw were approved between 1950 and 1970 and appear as a notation on title for private properties. The bylaws also provide for clear and advance notice of any work within the corridor. As part of the process leading up to construction the City will have to obtain approval for the work under the Provincial Water Sustainability Act. This process also provides an opportunity for consultation with landowners and the public.

What kind of vegetation will be affected?

Trees and shrubs have grown throughout much of the existing infrastructure. Removal of vegetation, including some larger trees may be necessary as part of the restoration. This can have some affect on the environment, and can be a sensitive issue. Restoration plans include careful removal, and replanting of the riparian area.

Are you being careful of sensitive cultural areas?

A Cultural and Heritage Inventory Mapping in Penticton Creek was carried out with Okanagan Nation Alliance and Penticton Indian Band in 2016. This high level survey identified archaeological sites and areas with archaeological potential. As such, work in areas of the Creek require various assessments and permits before construction can begin. The Plan recommends undertaking these processes well in advance of construction. The Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the Syilx People has informed the Creek restoration process. This is an exciting opportunity to work together to protect and respect an area of cultural and environmental importance.

Has the plan factored in a continuous recreation pathway along the creek?

Multiple public processes have identified a continuous pathway along the Creek as a key priority for our community. This Plan compliments concurrent plans to realize the walkway and will make pathway considerations at each stage of construction.

How does this Master Plan connect to other planning in our community?

The project is consistent with the Downtown Plan which recognizes Penticton Creek as an important natural amenity. The project is also in step with the OCP which promotes protection of critical species habitat and the restoration of fish stocks in Okanagan Lake. The OCP also recognizes Penticton Creek as having flood hazard potential.

Who has been involved in planning?

In 2013 the Penticton Creek Restoration Committee was formed at the request of City Council as a response to increased attention from the public to restoring the creek as seen in the 2008 Cultural District Plan and the 2012 Downtown Plan process. The Committee of stakeholders has been at the centre of all planning and directed the work of engineering and conservation professionals in the creation of the Master Plan. Both at the time of the Showcase project and in the drafting of the Master Plan considerable public research and consultation with key partners has been carried out. Member of the Penticton Creek Restoration Committee are:

  • Penticton Indian Band

  • Downtown Penticton Association

  • Okanagan Nation Alliance

  • South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program

  • Penticton Flyfishers

  • Freshwater Fisheries Society

  • MFLNRO Fish and Wildlife

  • Adjacent Landowners

  • MFLNRO Water Management

How do we prioritize work in such a complex, multi-phase plan?

In 2013 the Penticton Creek Restoration Committee was formed at the request of City Council as a response to increased attention from the public to restoring the creek as seen in the 2008 Cultural District Plan and the 2012 Downtown Plan process. The Committee of stakeholders has been at the centre of all planning and directed the work of engineering and conservation professionals in the creation of the Master Plan. Both at the time of the Showcase project and in the drafting of the Master Plan considerable public research and consultation with key partners has been carried out. Member of the Penticton Creek Restoration Committee are:

  • Penticton Indian Band

  • Downtown Penticton Association

  • Okanagan Nation Alliance

  • South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program

  • Penticton Flyfishers

  • Freshwater Fisheries Society

  • MFLNRO Fish and Wildlife

  • Adjacent Landowners

  • MFLNRO Water Management


What are the next steps?

Funding has been secured to move forward with the next section of Creek restoration. Section 3a (lower) in the plan is identified as the next priority. Restoration will begin in 2018.

Over the next year, City Council and the Committee have the chance to share our plan with the public and other stakeholders and hear feedback in order to inform further decisions on Penticton Creek. As our work transforms the creek, we’ll reassess our plan to ensure it still makes sense for flood protection and fish habitat. It is recommended that the Master Plan be updated on a 10 year interval.