Design maps for the planned restoration of Kus-kus-sum. Photo by Terry Farrell

Project Watershed to host public info night regarding Kus-Kus-sum

Unpave Paradise: The Past, Present and Future of Kus-kus-sum

Project Watershed is undertaking one of the largest, most high-profile initiatives in local conservation history – a partnership with the K’omoks First Nation (KFN) and the City of Courtenay to “unpave paradise” and restore the former sawmill site on the Courtenay River to estuary and riverside forest. Named Kus-kus-sum, the initiative honours the historic uses of this area in KFN’s unceded traditional territory.

On Thurs. Nov. 30, 7 p.m. at the Stan Hagen Theatre, North Island College, Project Watershed will host a public information night about the project, featuring guest experts, including Scott Wallace from the David Suzuki Foundation. Speakers will use multimedia presentations to share stories about the past, present and future of Kus-kus-sum, focusing on its unique historic and environmental values. The event will include an audience Q&A facilitated by Sharon Edwards, former CBC Radio host. Admission is free, donations appreciated. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

The multi-year $6.5M Kus-kus-sum project will remove 3.5 hectares of pavement and a notorious salmon “killing wall” while delivering many community benefits ranging from improved nature access and habitat enhancement to more recreational opportunities and a revitalized riverfront.

“Many people have heard that something is happening with this area,” says Caila Holbrook, Project Watershed’s outreach co-ordinator. “The Nov. 30 info night will answer people’s big questions on issues such as project importance, soil contamination and the fundraising initiatives required to raise the money needed to restore this crucial habitat.”

“The K’ómoks Estuary is at a crossroads,” says Tim Ennis, project manager and executive director of the Comox Valley Land Trust. “Restoring this important section of the waterway to its natural features will create the most returns on investment for the community. If successful in our fundraising efforts, Kus-kus-sum will support cleaner air, cleaner water and enhanced community wellbeing, while helping absorb future flooding and offsetting climate change impacts. This innovative project can make us a leader in BC and Canada and we’re building partnerships on that basis.”

The Nov. 30 info night will explore why Kus-kus-sum is an opportunity for the Comox Valley to create a valuable legacy and restore our relationship with the world-class K’omoks Estuary.

“After more than a century of industrial service and decline in ecological function, we have the chance to live with this section of the river in a way that’s better for everyone,” says Paul Horgan, chair of Project Watershed’s board. Kus-kus-sum is in a two-year land acquisition and fundraising phase. The first goal is to raise $100K by Dec. 20. The total target of local fundraising is $500K by 2019.

For more information on the Nov. 30 Unpave Paradise public info night, visit projectwatershed.ca/

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Representing the three partners in the project, Courtenay Councillor Doug Hillian, K’ómoks First Nation Chief Councillor Nicole Rempel and Project Watershed chair Paul Horgen pose for a photo at the estuary, across from the sawmill site that will be restored. Photo by John Bonner.

Residents gathered on the lawn in front of Local restaurant to celebrate the kick-off of the Keeping it Living restoration project. Photo by Terry Farrell

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