Saving the pond at the Commons

Gabriola Commons

Submitted Article

Wednesday, October 16 2019

Early September a teacher, taking a class to visit the pond at the Commons, was suddenly speechless for what seemed like a long time before saying quietly, “This is where the pond used to be!”

A voice broke the silence, the voice of a boy who knew about ponds and salamanders. “There’s still some water. It’s just really, really low.” 

He was right. Unless we take action the pond will continue to dry back more and more each year. All taps giving water to the gardens on the Commons had been shut off several weeks earlier to save the pond and the wildlife around it. A desperate action, but not enough. 

We have engaged in the project of a large reservoir to capture the winter rains and supply irrigation water to the gardens, spelling off the pond which is part of the largest watershed on the island. The cost: $50,000 for the reservoir and water distribution system.

People are no longer hearing the chorus of frogs in the summer or seeing the mosquitoes we used to complain about. The Trumpeter swans didn’t stop by this year, nor the Virginia Rail which once nested in the shallow waters. 

The Great Blue Heron which used to stand sentinel on the beaver lodge was only seen once, early in the spring. And the beavers... signature slant-cuts on willows have been seen, but only a few. 

Leaving a final word to the network of young islanders who are becoming very aware of the ecosystems near the pond: a message was found inside a glass jar reading: 

“Dear Nature Buddies, Thank you for the note and for telling us about the ant hill. We found 2 ant trails going to the trees. We also found a deer skull. We heard and saw Stellar Jays chattering where we all turn off our voices.

“Have an interesting day! Division 3. Your Nature Buddies.” 

Serious fundraising has begun, but we do need your help. 

See Gabriolacommons.ca or donate through CanadaHelps. 

And don’t forget the 1% Club at Village Liquor Store, where for October, the Commons Reservoir project is the designated recipient.