In the 1970s, the Squamish River training berm and the rail spur line were built on the western and eastern sides of the central estuary limiting water flow and habitat function in this area.
The berm was originally put in to enable a coal export facility to be built in the central estuary. However, following public concern over the continued industrialization of Squamish’s waterfront, this coal export facility was never built. However the berm (or ‘spit road’) remained.
The Federal-Provincial Squamish Estuary Management Planning (SEMP) started in the late 1970s was signed in 1999 by the Federal, Provincial and Local governments designating conservation, industrial / commercial, transportation land use areas, and recommended that the Mamquam Blind Channel be further assessed before designating acceptable land uses.
Since 1999, the SRWS in partnership with Squamish Nation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Province of BC and others led restoration projects in the estuary. As of 2015, this collective substantially completed many restoration measures identified in the SEMP including:
Restoring 15ha of salt marsh, tidal channels and upland habitat
Installing four of the nine existing culverts and trash racks across the training berm
Constructing over 25,000 m2 of tidal channel habitat and restoration planting
Constructing pedestrian bridges throughout the estuary trail network
Restoration of eelgrass beds (Zostera marina)
Collectively, these projects are beginning to demonstrate that it is not too late for the Squamish River estuary to transform from a barren industrial area back to the thriving ecosystem it once was.
The next phase in this restoration work will be removing 300m of the berm in 2021/2, followed by the full modification of the spit road. The project team will leave the end of the berm intact for recreational users to enjoy, particularly those that use this point for launch (kiteboarders, paddleboarders, kayakers, etc).