Nelson Creek Hatchery

Area: 5.1 sq km
Length: 4.94 km
Orientation: northeast-southwest
Elevation range: 0 to 1130 m
Nelson Creek is located in the westernmost part of West Vancouver near the entry to Howe Sound. The creek originates on Black Mountain plateau. It flows down the steep forested mountainside and discharges into Burrard inlet at Fisherman's Cove.
Nelson creek was used as a water supply for Horseshoe Bay and Whytecliff from 1923 until the late 1980ís.
The intake at 143m elevation, is now used to supply water to the Nelson Creek Hatchery.
The estuary was dredged in 1967 to allow the development of a marina.

The Nelson Creek Hatchery is located on the edge of the Nelson Creek canyon, on the mountain slopes above the Upper Levels Highway.
Water for the hatchery is drawn from Nelson Creek, ensuring a supply where urbanization is minimal.
The hatchery was built in 1991.
Initially it was managed by students of the Alternative Program at Sentinel High School.
West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society took over supervision in the spring of 1997. The group supplies a pool of local volunteers for all aspects of hatchery work - from harvesting spawning salmon for the eggs and milt, to daily feeding of young fry, to releasing fry and smolts into local creeks. Volunteers work under the supervision of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Community Advisor.

The hatchery consists of three troughs for small fry, two tubs to hold large fry and pre-smolts, a shed containing 32 egg incubation trays and a storage shed all within a securely fenced area.
Chum eggs are obtained from the Tenderfoot Hatchery in Squamish and coho eggs from the Capilano Hatchery in January of every year. They are ponded in early April, and moved from the incubation trays to the troughs outside. Most fry are released in June, but about 8,000 to 10,000 are kept in tubs over winter until they are ready to go out to the sea as smolts in May.

Chum and coho are primarily raised for release to West Vancouver creeks with fish access problems. These are creeks where salmon spawners can no longer go because of man-made barriers, but where habitat is still good for rearing young fry.
In recent years, fry have been released to other West Vancouver creeks without fish access problems.

In 2003, 148,000 chum fry were released to Cypress, Nelson, Eagle, McDonald, Rodgers and Larson Creeks.
Also, 117,000 coho fry were released to Hadden, Brothers, Cypress, Rodgers, Pipe, Marr, Larson, Wood, Nelson and Eagle Creeks.

The creek's ability to support salmon is classified as endangered by Fisheries and Oceans Canada because of extensive modification by development. (The creek has been dammed and dredged and the estuary lost.)
Small populations of wild Coho utilize the stream up to the Cranley Drive impasse, Chum up to Marine Drive, and Steelhead up to Marine Drive.
There are Cutthroat trout throughout the stream.

Dredging done to create the marina, eliminated the lower 75 metres of the creek and the estuary. Estuaries are necessary transition habitat zones for young salmon as they adjust to saltwater on their way out to sea.
Retaining structures in the former estuary limit upstream migration. Spawning salmon must now wait for high tide - above 14 ft - to enter the creek.
The culverts under Telegraph Trail, Marine Drive and Cranley Drive restrict or block fish passage.
The creek channel was altered to accommodate urbanization, reducing instream habitat for fish.

  • Cement curb baffles were installed in an open box culvert at Marine Drive to improve fish access - Department of Fisheries and Oceans, 1999
  • Cement curb baffles were installed in the culvert at the mouth of Nelson Creek on Thunderbird Marina property, 1997
  • Series of drops and pools were created with large boulders in the lower 100 m section of the creek, 1972
  • Water quality samples were taken - North Shore Streamkeepers, 1999
  • Spawner surveys were done - West Vancouver Streamkeepers, 1997 onwards
  • A stream survey was done - West Vancouver Streamkeepers, 1997
  • A chum and coho incubation box was kept at Cranley Drive between 1981 and 1986 (67,500 coho and 75,000 chum planted)


West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society

Jan Moger
Phone: 778-926-4096

Leslie Shuparski
Phone: 604-220-2276

Community Advisor for West Vancouver and Howe Sound
Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Michelle Bouchard
Phone: 604-347-6594

November 30, 2003
March 10, 2006
December 11, 2019