A $15,000 grant from the Real Estate Foundation of B.C. and two grants worth the same amount for 2013 and 2014 from the Vancouver Foundation will enable the Comox Valley Project Watershed Society to produce an interactive animated map of the Courtenay River estuary.
The online map will illustrate how the waterway has changed over time, and issues such as the loss of spawning habitat and salt marsh, the need to re-establish side channels critical during fish migration, and flooding caused by extreme weather.
The animation feature will help present various scenarios for addressing these challenges and illustrate the social, environmental, recreational and economic benefits of a restored estuary.
"What we really want is for it to be a place where all estuary information could come together," said Caila Holbrook, the society's estuary co-ordinator and business manager of mapping services.
She notes the map will include flood plain mapping.
"We'd like to include all the information that we can so it's one place people can go to get information when they visit the estuary."
The process might take a few years before the map is complete. It will start with public meetings in the new year. The aim is to glean information about past and current uses, and future options.
"In the end it could be an educational tool," Holbrook said.
The society will likely partner with the Comox Museum and Archives, and other organizations.