Sara Dubois

Wild ARC waterline on track

he ducks and geese and otters might not appreciate the difference, but early this year fresh, flowing water will be on tap for Wild ARC

The ducks and geese and otters might not appreciate the difference, but early this year fresh, flowing water will be on tap for the Wild ARC aquatic centre.

In late December, the BC SPCA set out its 2012 capital projects, and as expected, the Metchosin-based animal rescue facility was earmarked $430,000, plus contingency, to install a long-awaited waterline.

The funds are part of a $3.5-million gift from the late Gladys Cavaghan, an Oak Bay resident who died in late 2009 at 95 years of age.

Cavaghan stipulated the money should be used for SPCA infrastructure projects in the Capital Region. It is the largest legacy gift ever for the BC SPCA.

The Capital Regional District has agreed to manage, engineer and install the waterline, which will run about one kilometre from a dead-end watermain on Liberty Drive in Metchosin. Construction is expected to start when weather allows, possibly in February.

“We’re very excited, but there won’t be any celebration until shovels are in the ground and the taps are on,” said Sara Dubois, the BC SPCA manger of wildlife services. “We just hope there’s not many construction issues, we hope there’s not many problems with the terrain.”

The waterline project will also allow the installation of more fire hydrants in that area of Metchosin, specifically on Malloch Road. “Fire hydrants will give us peace of mind and our neighbours peace of mind,” Dubois remarked. “The project is bigger than just Wild ARC. It’s a benefit for the community.”

The waterline will allow the facility to stop trucking in about 20,000 litres water every few days in the summer. The project coincides with the ongoing construction of a five-pool aquatic centre for waterfowl, marine birds and small sea mammals. A goose and an otter will live in the centre over the winter, and a recovering pelican is expected soon.

Wild ARC manger Kari Marks hopes the waterline is completed in time for the peak summer season — if this year is anything like this year, they’ll need it. Last year the facility treated almost 2,000 animals, which doesn’t including several hundred others brought in by veterinary clinics.

“We’ve had more animals in 2011 than ever before. We haven’t hit 2,000 but we’re close,” Marks said. “Previous years haven’t come near that.”

June, for instance, broke the animal intake record with 395 critters, where a 300 animal month is considered exceptionally busy. As busy as Wild ARC is, an unintended consequence of the $3.5 million gift is a drop in donations for day to day SPCA operations. Dubois said the SPCA and Wild ARC, which receive no provincial funding, still need operations funds.

“(The waterline) couldn’t be done without the legacy fund, but the day to day needs are still there,” Dubois said.

“Every year for the past three years we have gotten busier, every year the numbers of animals coming through the doors at Wild ARC has gone up. This year it’s been significant.”

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