Millstream Watershed Good Neighbours

This project helped the local community to enhance and protect one of Greater Victoria’s most important watersheds, and to develop better understanding of the green infrastructure benefits provided by healthy natural ecosystems.  Habitat Acquisition Trust employed our acclaimed landowner contact services, public events, and volunteer demonstration projects to increase community stewardship of Millstream Creek.

Please scroll down this page to find the 2009 project report summary.

Draining an area of 26 square kilometres, this rainfall catchment area (i.e. watershed) has a diversity of natural values.  Located within the jurisdiction of the District of Highlands, City of Langford, City of Colwood, and the Town of View Royal, the salmon-bearing Millstream Creek passes through several lakes and wetlands over 12.5 kilometres.  Rural, residential, and industrial areas contribute water to Millstream before it flows into a tidal estuary in Esquimalt Harbour.





Millstream Creek links many wetlands and other natural areas.  The Creek provides habitat and a connective corridor from Gowlland-Tod Park in the Highlands of Victoria to the marine waters of Juan de Fuca Strait.  As our climate changes, wildlife corridors will be critically important avenues for plants and animals to migrate to new habitats.  Many Species at Risk live in the Watershed, including the Endangered Western Painted Turtle.  Without natural corridors like Millstream Creek, species can find themselves trapped in a location that is no longer suitable as conditions change.  Millstream Creek also provides a host of green infrastructure benefits (free ecosystem services) to our community. The Creek and its associated wetlands reduce stormwater flows and improve water quality.  The trees and shrubs supported by the Creek trap airborne pollutants, sequester carbon, and moderate local temperature.  Replacing this “green infrastructure” with engineered solutions (if even feasible) would cost the community far more than maintaining the natural ecosystem.


As much Millstream Creek is bordered by private property, the land care practices of those landowners will largely determine the health and functionality of the Creek.  HAT’s experienced outreach staff will deliver free information packages and provide property consultations to interested landowners, including naturescaping prescriptions, composter trouble shooting, advice on pests, invasive species control, drainage, erosion, and soil improvement.


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The final Millstream Good Neighbours project report and independent project evaluation will be available soon. HAT's project report summary follows:

2009 Project Summary

Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) is a regional non-profit land trust that protects natural habitats through environmental stewardship, education, land acquisitions, and conservation covenants. The goal of the 2009 Millstream Watershed Good Neighbours project was to foster private land stewardship on properties around the sensitive creek and its wetlands. The Millstream Watershed is under immediate threat from a host of negative impacts that landowners can minimize through simple land care techniques. Authorities have recognized for years that public outreach to landowners in and adjacent to environmentally sensitive areas is an effective complement to regulation and land use planning to protect the natural environment. This project is a response to the Millstream Watershed Management Forum report that called for landowner contact (Millstream, 1997) Considering the very high natural values, expanding population, and high percentage of private residential land ownership in the Millstream Watershed, public outreach is highly appropriate. The Creek is bordered extensively by private property; land care practices among many new residents in the watershed will a play a large role in determining the future habitat quality of the river for salmonids and other wildlife.

Draining a rainfall catchment area of 26 square kilometres, the Millstream Watershed contains a diversity of natural values including very high biodiversity, excellent groundwater, and amazing geography. Spanning the District of Highlands, the City of Langford, the City of Colwood, and the Town of View Royal, the salmon-bearing Millstream Creek travels over twelve kilometres through lakes and wetlands.  Rural, residential, and industrial areas drain to Millstream as it flows into a rare tidal estuary in Esquimalt Harbour

During the summer and fall of 2009, HAT staff contacted over 1700 residents, delivered 100 stewardship information packages, and completed 37 visits to property owners near the Stream. HAT signed 28 Land Care Agreements with landowners.  20 volunteers planted many native shrubs with HAT to re-vegetate streamside buffer area in Langford.  23 permanent stewardship signs were posted at participating properties to recognize the owners’ commitment to conservation.  The project created 70 new community volunteers.  Local biologists and naturalists sparked community discussion at neighbourhood events and provided hands on educational opportunities for 150 local residents. HAT worked with Cubs and Scouts to paint over 140 yellow fish on storm drains and delivered flyers to homes, reminding residents that storm drains are just for rain. The Millstream Watershed Good Neighbours Project generated a local television segment, two front page news articles and photos, an editorial, an online movie segment, and promotion of stream stewardship events in local news media.

Through landowner contact HAT staff identified typical landscape conditions and activities that may have significant negative cumulative effects on habitat and water quality in the Millstream Watershed.

1. Vegetation clearing: replacing native vegetation with turf, asphalt, shelters, and streambank armouring;

2. Development in riparian zone: infilling, excavating, draining creek and wetland areas initially or through ongoing modification;

3. Weed Invasion: exotic plant species colonizing disturbed land and replacing native plant communities;

4. Fertilizer and nutrients: surface runoff and ground water infiltration of water from failing septic fields, topsoil erosion, manure stockpiles, pet waste;

5. Pesticide and herbicides: residential and agricultural sources of chemicals toxic to aquatic life.

Since 2004 HAT has provided landowner services in the watershed, and will continue to work with local landowners in the future. Far more extensive and ongoing community outreach must complement HAT's Good Neighbours project to manage the intense and negative influences of new development on the functional and biological integrity of Millstream Watershed. Information and activities for private landowners should be offered and promoted by local agencies on the identification, threats, and management of the priority issues we have identified.

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A special thank-you to our funders for the Millstream Watershed Good Neighbours Project in 2009: EcoAction (Environment Canada); Habitat Conservation Trust Fund, VanCity Credit Union Community Project Grant , BC Direct Gaming Access Grant, Royal Bank of Canada, BC Transmission Corporation, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation, Unilever-Evergreen, and the Town of View Royal. HAT also thanks the District of Highlands and the City of Langford for their inkind contributions of staff time and supportive newsletter articles.



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