Bonsall Creek Watershed Management Plan



Table of Contents

About Bonsall Creek Watershed

The Bonsall Creek Watershed is approximately 3,595 hectares in area, comprising two major creeks:  Whitehouse Creek (draining the north side of Mt. Sicker) and Bonsall Creek (draining the northeast side of Mr. Prevost and the southeast side of Little Mt. Sicker).  Other nearby watercourses, such as Solly's Creek which drains Solly's Lake, are also of interest to the study area with respect to drainage.  For the most part, the mountains are part of North Cowichan's municipal forest reserve.  Between the mountains, Bonsall Creek flows through highly productive agricultural land to lower agricultural areas that are seasonally inundated with water.  The creek flows through the Halalt and Penelakut reserve lands prior to entering an estuary.

For the purpose of this Plan, a small adjoining area of the Chemainus River watershed is included in the study area because the Chemainus River aquifer overlaps in the Bonsall Creek Watershed.



About the Project

The Bonsall Creek Watershed Management Plan will consider land uses within the study area, including existing and increased agricultural use, local jurisdictions and private lands, First Nations, municipal and private forest reserves, recreation and area development.  The primary purpose of the Plan is to give consideration to supporting the needs of agriculture within the context of the following:

  • planning for full water cycle
  • protecting ecosystem health, water quality, fish and fish habitat
  • securing access to water when and where it is needed most
  • addressing the negative impacts of poor drainage
  • using water efficiently
  • improving water quality entering and leaving properties

In 2012, after a review of their 2001 Strategic Agricultural Plan, and North Cowichan's 2011 Official Community Plan, North Cowichan's Agricultural Advisory Committee (AAC) set out 5 key priorities and determined that water management is the highest priority.  The AAC initiated the project in the early stages (Request for Proposals, seeking funding grants) and will continue to be actively involved in plan development.

The Plan is intended to address the particular needs of agriculture with respect to access to water, drainage and control, water use efficiency, and water quality.  A number of water management approaches and solutions have been implemented in the past with limited success.  The ongoing challenges of different jurisdictions and private landowner interests have made finding term solutions a difficult endeavour.

Unlike other watersheds in this area of Vancouver Island, the Bonsall Creek Watershed boundary falls completely within the North Cowichan municipal boundary, making it a good municipal pilot project for watershed planning.


Project Funding

The total project budget is $140,000, with 50% of the costs funded by a grant from the Investment Agricultural Foundation of British Columbia with support from the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia.  Established in 1996, the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC is an industry-led, not-for-profit organization working to foster growth and innovation across British Columbia's agriculture and agri-food industry.  The balance of the budget is being provided by the Municipality of North Cowichan.


Project Team

The project team is led by the Sustainability Solutions Group who delivered North Cowichan's award-winning Climate Action and Energy Plan.  Included in the team are Northwest Hydraulic Consultants Ltd. (hydrology engineering), GW Solutions (hydrogeology), the Q'ul-ilhanumutsun Aquatic Resources Society (Fisheries and First Nations outreach), D.R. Clough Consulting (fisheries and ecosystems), and David Tattum (agriculture).

The project team members have all worked in the North Cowichan area before and are excited about this unique project! 


Advisory Working Group

To ensure the Bonsall Creek Watershed Management Plan will address not only the needs of agriculture but those of neighbouring First Nations, federal and provincial agencies, eco-system health and other business sectors, a cross section of individuals and agencies were asked to participate.  Without their commitment, the Plan would not be able to move forward.  An Advisory Working Group has been established to critically guide the process and provide technical advice at various stages of the project.


Public Outreach and Events

March 15, 2016 - Twenty-five participants attended our final meeting held in the upper meeting room at the Fuller Lake Area. The draft plan was reviewed by residents and stakeholders and input was received.

February 19, 2015 - Approximately 40 participants attended the second community engagement event in the Lower Meeting Rooms at the Fuller Lake Arena.  Sustainability Solutions Group started with an overview of the baseline review and draft reports, and asked attendees to help establish a vision for the watershed.

"The Bonsall Creek Watershed connects all ecosystems and inhabitants via clean waterways shaped by natural forces and maintained by a community of active stewards.  The area's responsible agricultural operations and recreational uses complement the traditional and ongoing fishing activities in the rivers and on the shore.  Through considerate cooperation of its users, the watershed will provide pristine habitat, enjoyment and natural resources in perpetuity." (draft vision presented at the Open House)

November 27, 2014 -  Our first Open House was well attended with nearly 70 participants engaged in a community mapping exercise to record local knowledge and identify values and issues within the watershed.  The event ended with a visioning exercise in which attendees described what they would like to see happen in the watershed in terms of water management.  Future Open Houses and opportunities to be engaged in the project will be posted here.


Project Updates

 June 15, 2016 Bonsall Creek Watershed Management Plan - Final
March 6, 2015 Baseline Report, Policy Review, Watershed Atlas and Gap Analysis complete.
February 19, 2015 Community Meeting held at  Fuller Lake Arena
December 2014 to January 2015 Baseline Report, Water Balance Model and Watershed Atlas are being prepared.
November 27 & 28, 2014 Two community meetings held, including community mapping and visioning exercises.

October 26,  2014                 

Background information review, mapping and initial stakeholder meetings are underway.  Planning for late November public events is underway.

October 2, 2014 

The Bonsall Creek Watershed Management Project has launched!



Documents and Resources