Selkirk College students in the Recreation, Fish & Wildlife Program helped bring the Castlegar Campus parking lot bioswale project to life by planting a variety of flora into the areas where storm water runoff will help keep the area beautiful. Second-year students (from left) Julien Gullo, Jeremy Nieuwenhuis, Michael Haig and Tommo Thomas were some of the students who took part in the project. (Selkirk College)

Selkirk College’s Castlegar campus parking lot goes green

Selkirk College students took a break from class to pick up spades, wheelbarrows and garden gloves.

CASTLEGAR – Students in Selkirk College’s School of Environment & Geomatics took a break from classroom activities earlier this month to pick up spades, wheelbarrows and garden gloves.

“We’re building bioswales!” said Recreation, Fish & Wildlife (RFW) Program student Heidi Korens as she headed into the Castlegar Campus parking lot hauling a load of compost.

Supported by the college’s Sustainability Committee, the facilities and maintenance team, and senior management, the parking lot bioswale project is a unique effort to protect local water systems from sediment and chemical runoff from urban environments.

“A bioswale works to capture, localize and accumulate stormwater runoff, and to prevent or delay it entering into the greater watershed,” explained Applied Ecology and Biology instructor Doris Hausleitner, who organized students in both the RFW Program and Integrated Environmental Planning Program to help execute the project.

Soil and vegetation are the key elements in the process. Runoff water from the parking lot is channelled towards the bioswales, the soil captures and accumulates chemical and sediment contaminants, and vegetation utilizes the accumulated water which prevents it from escaping to the nearby Columbia River.

“Most of the plants we chose for this project can be found locally,” said Zak Bunting, a second-year RFW Program student.

Selkirk College hired local engineering firm WSA Engineering Limited to design and draft the bioswale project. Selkirk College Facilities & Maintenance tradesperson Mike Geisler acted as a project manager with MH Landscaping carrying out the construction. Special materials such as engineered soil, local “Gaia green earth” from Grand Forks and “coco” matting were used in the construction. The composted material was donated by the City of Castlegar with the local government expressing interest in using the Selkirk College bioswale plans for their own construction projects.

“I think this project has great general appeal,” said RFW Program student Beth Newbery. “It’s a great way to green-up our dirty parking lot and make it look nice too.”

The project broke new ground at Selkirk College and if all goes well, it could be repeated around the community and region.

“I’d like to see this project replicated en masse amongst commercial and public properties,” said RFW Program student Dani Crowe. “It’s a great way to help mitigate the impacts of our dirty cars using an element of their dirty infrastructure. Let’s do this… it’s 2017!”

Find out more about the Selkirk College School of Environment & Geomatics at

Just Posted

Rock climbers to get new facility in Rossland

City leases space in Miner’s Hall for bouldering club

Slocan Valley to be ‘lit up’ with high-speed internet in 12 months

125 kilometres of fibre-optic cable to be laid from Nakusp to Playmor Junction

Police bust drug operation in Castlegar

Man charged, will go to court in August

Vigil re-affirms belief in peace, acceptance in wake of New Zealand massacre

Nearly 100 show up for solemn event at Mir Centre for Peace

RED resort announces new ski lift

Topping lift will add new ski area to resort, reduce bottleneck on Motherload chair

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

Most Read