Source to Sea Project - Town of Gibsons

Activity that affects natural assets within the Gibsons Aquifer watershed (pink) also impacts the services delivered by natural assets within Town boundaries (green.)
Ensuring that the natural assets within the Town’s entire watershed are understood, measured, valued and, ultimately, managed to ensure their health.

The Town of Gibsons is evaluating the conditions and potential risks to natural assets within the Gibsons Aquifer Watershed. By ensuring that natural assets are understood, measured, and managed, this project will support asset management strategies and climate change responses.

View the Technical Report

View the Summary Report


Until now, the Town’s natural asset management work has been restricted to eco-assets (such as the White Tower Park storm water ponds,) which exist within the Town of Gibsons’ boundaries (as indicated by the green line on aerial photo, top right).

The Source to Sea Project seeks to extend the scope of that work by evaluating the natural assets that lie within the entire watershed of the Gibsons Aquifer (as indicated by the pink line on aerial photo, top right).

This is considered to be a more ecologically relevant scale, as activity that impacts the natural assets within the watershed (but outside of Town boundaries) also impacts our community’s stormwater management, flood mitigation and drinking water services.

Natural assets in the watershed area which will be assessed include forests, streams, creeks, wetlands, urban parks and the foreshore.

Project Area

The Source to Sea project area is the same as for the Town’s 2013 Aquifer Study, with the northern boundary set at the top of Mt. Elphinstone and the southern boundary at the Town’s waterfront. The western boundary includes the Chaster Creek watershed and the eastern boundary includes the Gibsons Creek watershed.

Project Goals

The overarching goal of the Source to Sea project is to ensure that the natural assets within the Town’s entire watershed are understood, measured, valued and, ultimately, managed to ensure their health.

Specifically, we seek to understand the current and possible future roles of the natural assets in providing:

  • safe, reliable drinking water supply through the aquifer recharge;
  • stormwater management services; and
  • flood mitigation services.

Project goals include:

  • establishing a baseline inventory of the natural assets that support water services;
  • providing a condition assessment of the identified areas;
  • understanding the level of service of the identified natural assets; and
  • recommending best management practices of the natural assets identified.

Information collected on the Charman Creek Lands and Arrowhead Park through the scope of this project will provide staff and Council with the information required to make informed decisions regarding future uses of the forested areas. These areas provide stormwater functions through both the soils and the trees, and are included in the Town’s natural asset inventory.

Final outputs for the project are expected to include:

  • Asset Registry Dashboard, with condition assessments complete
  • Modelling of current conditions for prioritized natural assets in the watershed
  • Uncalibrated service levels of prioritized natural assets
  • Economic valuation of watershed natural assets
  • Framework to connect Coastal Assets (Coastal Resilience Project) and Watershed methodologies (Source to Sea).

Data gathered through this project may also be used as inputs for the Aquifer Mapping Study update, and to support implementation of recommendations contained in the Town’s Integrated Stormwater Management Plan.

Project Status: Complete

Phase 1 – COMPLETE: During this phase, assessment of the natural assets (i.e. forests, wetlands and riparian areas) within the aquifer recharge area was undertaken:

Phase 2 – COMPLETE: During this phase, the project team worked to identify potential risks to the natural assets and then model possible future scenarios in order to determine how to best protect them.

  • Potential risks to the assets include erosion, development pressure, invasive species, drought, deforestation, overuse of trails/unauthorized dumping of green waste in sensitive areas, flooding, forest fire, pollutant loading, drought, storm events, storm surge, sea level rise, and ocean temperature rise.
  • Through this work, it was determined that the natural assets that faced the highest number of risks were creeks (7 high risks) and riparian areas (6 high risks) followed by foreshore (4 high risks) and the urban forest (4 high risks).

Phase 3 – COMPLETE: This phase of the project modeled future scenarios, such as deforestation through logging or wildfire in the upper watershed, and then to assess the impact on the affected natural assets.

Project Partners

The Source to Sea project is being conducted in partnership with the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative, concurrent with its Managing Natural Assets to Coastal Resilience project.

Engagement and input will also be sought from:

This project was supported through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative, which is delivered by the Real Estate Foundation of BC and Watersheds BC, with financial support from the Province of BC as part of its $10-billion COVID-19 response.

The Interagency Watershed Plan (below) illustrates how managing the aquifer watershed requires effective collaboration across many jurisdictions and organizations.