University of Victoria
The Ring - The University of Victoria's Community Newspaper

June 5, 2003 · Vol 29 · No 9

Spring Convocation 2003


Grad builds streams of her dreams


Malmkvist"Watch out for the plants," says Lana Malmkvist, clambering down the gravelly bank of the creek that she built. Malmkvist, a self-proclaimed "plant person" who graduates this month with a master's degree in environmental studies and geography, is leaving a couple of Victoria's freshwater systems healthier than she found them.


Malmkvist and her colleagues restored sections of Blenkinsop and Swan creeks, transforming what were essentially "laser-straight ditches" into healthy, meandering streams.


"When we started, we knew these two sections of creek were not functioning at all," says Malmkvist. A couple of years later, the areas have been revitalized for plants, animals and humans alike. And while there may not be any salmon spawning in the streams yet, Malmkvist has a "build it and they will come" approach.


"We're trying to put in place all the elements that will kick-start the restoration process," she says. The new habitats are already attracting more wildlife, such as herons, turtles, frogs, ducks and geese.


The two projects, which involved co-ordinating three levels of government as well as private landowners and community groups, took months of assessment, design, negotiation and planning. But there was also lots of work to do on-site, supervising the creation of streambeds and ponds to hold storm water.


"The on-the-ground stuff is the most exciting part," says Malmkvist, who spent many days on-site with hard-hat, vest and level as the rejuvenated landscapes took shape. And, of course, she took particular interest in choosing and planting native sedges and rushes, shrubs and deciduous trees for the new sites.


Urban stream restoration was a natural choice for Malmkvist, who earned a BSc in biology from UVic in 1998, then worked with Aqua-Tex Scientific Consulting Ltd, a local firm headed by former UVic instructor Patrick Lucey. An NSERC industrial postgraduate scholarship helped fund her work on the two projects.


In the end, both the Swan Creek and Blenkinsop projects have won awards, not only for Malmkvist but also for her collaborators, including the Municipality of Saanich and Cadillac Homes developer Cam Pringle.


More of the same is in store for Malmkvist, who thrives on bringing people together to devise ecologically sustainable solutions to development.


"Development is going to occur," she says. "The thing to figure out is how to make the best use of the space we do have left, and how to make compromises that work for everyone."






Lasting legacy

Lou-Poy takes oath as ninth chancellor

Honorary degrees

Class of '64 caps convocation

Major medal winners

Grad stories

Ben Blackmore

Leigh Cormier

Ken Cryderman

Ross Kang

Lehna Malmkvist

Sheri Molnar

Tamara Rozeck-Allen

Julia Shinaba

Alice Tyrrell

Dr. Brigitte Vachon

Daniel Vanderster

Andrés Vidal Gadea

Trev Williams