Restoring Belfountain Conservation Area

Drone shot of dam and bridge

The closure of Belfountain Conservation Area this year may have you wondering what’s going on at the park. We’re in the process of a critical restoration project to help protect and manage the natural and cultural heritage of this historic property.

The project will restore a 180-metre section of the West Credit River by removing the park’s headpond and replacing it with a new river channel. The dam will also be lowered by one metre to improve structural stability. These changes will improve the overall health of the river by increasing flow and cooling the water, which improves habitat for native brook trout.

What’s happened so far?

Restoration work began earlier this summer. To-date, we’ve created a diversion channel along the north side of the former pond to allow the new river channel to form. We placed a series of meter bags along the channel to protect the river from the work area. Meter bags are large bags filled with pea gravel that form a temporary dam to enclose the work area. This allows us to build the new channel without damaging the stream and wildlife.

Meter bags along the channel.

Most of the new channel is formed. We’ve planted dogwood, willows, alders and other plants along the banks. Their roots will hold banks in place and provide shade to help lower water temperature and improve water quality.

River is diverted through the sluiceway (a channel for overflow water to pass through) and the dam face is exposed.

We tested the sediment that had accumulated in the old headpond area to ensure it meets provincial guides for clean fill. We’ve moved it to Pinchin Pit, another CVC property, where it will be stored until it’s reused in future restoration projects.

We reshaped the top of the dam to lower it by one metre. In order to stabilize this historic structure, we poured a new concrete cap and installed rock anchors throughout the dam.

Getting ready to cut the dam. The removed sediment allows the new river channel to form.

Additionally, our staff have been hard at work rescuing more than 3,000 fish during the project to make sure fish are not trapped in pools that form after the river was diverted. We continue to monitor the site for fish.

CVC staff conducting fish rescue after the river was diverted.

What’s next in the project?

We’re almost ready to re-divert the river back to the newly restored channel. This will allow water to flow along the new channel and over the lowered dam. The meter bags will remain in place so the channel and dam rehabilitation can be completed.

Over the next few months, we’ll be focusing on improvements to the park’s pond loop boardwalk and building the new heritage gardens and fox folly sculpture. Restoration work will also begin on the iconic “belle” fountain and a new pedestrian bridge will be installed to connect the parking area to the heritage gardens.

Learn more about the Belfountain Restoration Project.

Comments (4)

  1. What wonderful work! Thank you! I hope and pray it is not all for nothing given the threat to the health of the river by the Erin wastewater treatment plant. ?

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