Rock Bay Creek: Why Daylighting?

“In urban design and urban planning, daylighting is the redirection of a stream into an above-ground revert it to a more natural state, for the purposes of runoff reduction, habitat creation for species in need of it, or for aesthetic purposes. Daylighting intends to revitalize the riparian environment for a stream which had been previously diverted into a culvert, pipe, or a drainage system. Daylighting also refers to the public process toward such projects."

From Wikipedia”Daylighting (streams)"


Rock Bay Creek rises in what is now Fernwood, runs through Quadra Hillside, Burnside Gorge, and empties into Rock Bay. The creek also drains parts of North Park and Oaklands. It runs below three parks – Alexander Park, Blackwood Park, and Wark Street Park, a community garden (all formerly swampy areas) and through the heart of two communities.

Under our current methods, we have the technology to build on damp and swampy ground. This wasn't possible in the late 1890s, so such spots remained green spaces. As settler population increased, many small and large creeks were culverted to facilitate development and as a health measure, since they'd become places to dump garbage and disease carriers. Once culverted, it was easy to forget they're there and we lose touch with the original water sources that sustained life in this area.

In a time of global warming, we are more in need of clean healthy water than ever. In a time of the industrialization of our wild lands, millions/billions of gallons of water used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) are made toxic and lost to us forever.

“All the water that will ever be is, right now”, National Geographic October 1993

Rock Bay Creek Revival works to remind us of the water below our feet, water we have forgotten, water without which we cannot live. Without water there is no life, no life for hummingbirds and mayflies, coho and cutthroat, bears, deer, raccoons, and mice, and we humans. If we do not remember our water, if we do not take care of it, there will be no place for us on this earth.



Rock Bay Creek Revival gratefully thanks and recognizes the guidance of Esquimalt and Songhees Nations on whose unceded land we live, learn and work. We acknowledge their generosity in helping us imagine this land before settlers changed it so drastically.


Rock Bay Creek - A Story of Urban Watershed Revival

by Lindsay Kathrens and Ian Flock



An interview by Gregor Craigie of CBC Radio Victoria

On February 25, 2019, Movie Monday screened the film LOST RIVERS which looks at daylighting projects in London, England; Seoul, Korea; Brescia, Italy; Yonkers, New York and a few other cities. The film examines the history of urban rivers around the world and current approaches to better managing and appreciating them. As public outreach, Gregor Craigie of CBC's On the Island interviewed Dorothy Field (for RBCR) and Soren Henrich (for Bowker Creek Initiative) about two creeks in Victoria and their projects' goals of daylighting and remediating them, as well as various innovative approaches to deal with storm water run off. These issues become ever more crucial as the seas rise and disastrous storm events flood our towns.

Many thanks to Bruce Saunders of Movie Monday and Gregor Craigie for their support as well as to the many neighbours who filled the theatre to capacity and stayed for a Q&A afterwards.

Here is that interview: