McIntosh Brook, at the city limits near Fredericton’s Silverwood neighbourhood, was already full of potential when Rod Currie first stumbled upon it in 2010.
The five-kilometre-long, six-metre-wide brook is shaded by trees, and even in midsummer the water is cool, the president of the Fredericton Fish and Game Association said.
Its waters are also home to an abundance of fish species — everything from brook and rainbow trout to salmon parr, American eel, burbot and slimy sculpin.
Currie said the association, in partnership with the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the City of Fredericton, is now removing a deteriorating trail culvert and expanding the available habitat to restore a fish passage to the brook.
“Cold-water habitat is a shrinking resource with climate change and other impacts,” he said. “It’s just disappearing and that’s the water that’s required for some of our cold-water species, like brook trout and salmon and others.
“I saw the potential of this brook and examined it a bit more closely and found it had a couple of limitations to reach that potential.
“So I’ve been chasing down possibilities to address these limitations over the last number of years, and we’ve had some success and this is the next phase of helping that brook along.”
Association, city split the cost
Currie said the association already took out an old concrete dam at the mouth of the brook, to allow for an unrestricted fish passage up as far as the culvert.
Work to remove the culvert is now underway. The upgrade is expected to cost $235,000, with the association covering $100,000, he said.
The other $135,000 was part of Fredericton’s 2016-2017 capital budget, a news release from the city said.
The culvert’s initial replacement was to cost an estimated $400,000 but Currie hopes to keep the costs down.
He said the city has wanted to get rid of the culvert, built in 1912, for a while now.
“It’s probably 30 to 40 feet deep and that means … there’s a pile of material that has to be removed to get right down to the culvert,” he said.
‘We’ve been chipping away at it and it’s great to see that this phase is getting completed.’– Rod Currie, Fredericton Fish and Game Association
In the news release, Coun. Henri Mallet, chair of the city’s transportation committee, called it a “cost effective and feel-good project for everyone involved.”
“Not only do we eliminate the need for further maintenance on a culvert, but the re-establishment of this fish passage means improved habitat for many species of fish,” Mallet said.
Currie said a second culvert is obstructing the passage of fish underneath the former Trans-Canada highway, now Route 102.
Removal of that obstacle falls to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, which already indicated a willingness to remove it, he said.
As for the first culvert, Currie expects the partners will have everything done, “the bank stabilized, the channel constructed,” by the end of September.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “Like I said, 2010 is when it came to my attention and we’ve been chipping away at it and it’s great to see that this phase is getting completed.”