The south wharf located on the far side of Swan Lake is officially closed and being demolished. (Photo by Joanne Fleming)

Swan Lake south wharf demolition begins in Saanich

Wharf built in the 1990s deemed beyond repair

Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary staff have begun demolishing the south wharf that closed last summer.

In July 2019, the south wharf at Swan Lake – located near the Lochside Regional Trail and the Galloping Goose Trail – was closed to the public while it’s safety and viability were assessed.

On March 19, Kathleen Burton, executive director of the nature sanctuary, explained the tough decision had been made to demolish the wood structure built in the 1990s.

“The beautiful wharf is beyond repair having been weathered by the forces of nature, it has reached the end of its life,” she said in a written statement.

Burton explained that upon reviewing the state of the wharf, the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary’s ecosystems and facilities committee and staff decided that the time had come to remove it to focus on the “environmental needs of the sanctuary and the safety of visitors.”

Protecting those visiting the nature sanctuary is something staff take very seriously, she said. Since the wharf was shut down, staff have been consistently reminding people not to climb over the barricade or vandalize it because it’s there to keep everyone safe.

Work has now begun to dismantle and remove the wharf structure, Burton said adding the area remains off-limits to the public. Demolition will be followed by efforts to “re-naturalize the area” through conservation and restoration.

“Protecting wildlife, tackling climate change, and contributing to the recovery of species at risk is in large part, what allows the sanctuary to continue to be an environmental leader and to provide an urban sanctuary that brings people and nature together,” she said.

Burton emphasized the decision to remove the wharf was given serious thought as it was a popular spot for those looking for a quiet moment in nature. She pointed out that the removal gives staff a chance to restore the area to “allow plant life to once again flourish and provide a refuge for the animals that call the wetland home.”

The Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary celebrates its 45th anniversary in June. The Nature House is temporarily closed during the COVID-19 outbreak.

devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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