Powell River Salmon Society supporters can take a step in the right direction by purchasing bricks that will be laid on the pathway at the Alex Dobler Salmon Centre at Lang Creek.
Salmon society member Ed Oldfield said last year, with assistance from Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society (PRPAWS) the salmon society started putting in a year-round wheelchair accessible pathway. He said it’s 880 feet around the spawning channel.
“As long as I’ve been here there’s times of the year where it’s muddy and people can’t get around it,” said Oldfield. “We have school tours, and periodically, we have people in wheelchairs out here, and it needs to be accessible to everybody. We went ahead with the pathway project last year, and as an organization that is always short of funds, we came up with an idea to build a brick pathway and inscribe the names of our donors.”
Oldfield said there will be three sections of bricks along the pathway that are going to have inscribed bricks on them. The first section will be near the building at the salmon centre site, where the salmon society’s corporate sponsors will be recognized. On the other side of the gazebo, there will be a lifetime members section, and then further up where the path gets back to the river, it’s going to be a memory lane, where people can memorialize their loved ones.
“This is not a one-shot fundraiser,” said Oldfield. “It’s a long-term commitment. These bricks that I’ve brought to the facility have been ordered as long ago as last spring and the other half were ordered six weeks ago.
“The bricks we have now are the result of $24,000 in donations to Powell River Salmon Society. It’s huge money for us.”
Oldfield said the salmon society operates on a slightly more than $250,000 annual budget and about half of that is locally fundraised. Fisheries and Oceans Canada provides an annual grant to the salmon society, but it hasn’t changed in 40 years, he added.
“They are not giving us a penny more,” said Oldfield. “When we started, about 85 per cent of our funding came from the department of fisheries and oceans and now it’s about half. We have to rely on fundraising activities in order to maintain our facility. Everybody knows that costs are going up. We have facilities to maintain, vehicles to maintain, staff to pay and fish to feed.”
Oldfield said the response from the fisheries department, when asking for greater funding, has been to produce fewer fish.
“It isn’t, quite frankly, in my mentality,” said Oldfield. “There’s a shortage of fish in the ocean. You don’t have to pick up too many newspapers to find out that salmon are critically endangered. We want healthy streams and sustainable salmon populations.”
Oldfield said close to two million fish are released annually by Powell River Salmon Society, and no one associated wants to see that number drop.
“For a little creek, it’s a huge impact,” he added.
He said there is a strong community commitment to the operation of the salmon society. He added that about 17,000 volunteer hours are put in on an annual basis.
“That’s enormous,” said Oldfield. “Everybody who volunteers for us has a piece to play in the game and we are all working hard. There’s a lot of people out there putting in a lot of time. That’s why we’re successful.”
Oldfield said the community support, as exemplified by the donors being recognized by the brick inscriptions, has been a great help.
“They’ve been fantastic to us and the only reason we still exist is because the community backs us,” added Oldfield.
He said if community members want to donate money for a brick, the easiest way is to log on to salmonpreservation.org, where there is a link to a paver order form.
“You can go through and fill out the form and get your name on a brick, which we’ll put in our pathway,” said Oldfield.
Donations to the salmon preservation fund can be made online at prsalmon.org.
Powell River Salmon Society’s efforts have been recognized in the House of Commons. On May 10, North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney asked Joyce Murray, minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, why organizations such as the salmon society were not being supported.
The question and response can be accessed by following this link: youtu.be/yb3B36Vr12U.