Cootes trail to close for Spencer Creek rehab works

The public trail along Spencer Creek by Cootes Drive is set to close for two weeks as heavy equipment moves in as part of a $185,000 effort to create better spawning areas for walleye, salmon, trout, pike and other fish.

The Hamilton Conservation Authority has hired contractor R&M Construction to do the work, scheduled to begin Aug. 20, weather permitting.

“We’re ecstatic about it. It’s a good-news story,” said Scott Peck, the authority’s deputy chief administrative officer.

“We’re hoping that it brings in more diversity of fish and hopefully will attract some of the walleye to start moving upstream and start spawning as well.”

The restoration is adding a series of pools and rapids, clusters of boulders, overhanging brush and boxlike wooden lunkers that will be embedded in the creek bank to provide fish refuge from the sun and predators.

It covers three sections of the creek east of Thorpe Street, with the upper portion by Thorpe for salmon habitat, the middle for walleye and the lower area closest to Cootes Drive for pike and other fish.

Peck said the long-planned project has been timed to avoid spawning seasons and will contribute to the remediation of Hamilton Harbour by providing the necessary habitat for fish to rebound.

It’s being made possible with the help of a $130,000 grant from a special provincial fund to clean up Lake Ontario.

Acton-based R&M Construction’s low bid beat out two other competitors for the project. The company, which specializes in restoring waterways, has already done work for the authority, successfully restoring man-made fishing ponds at Christie Lake to a more natural creek state.