Our history

History of the Oyster River Enhancement Society (“ORES”)

ORES is a British Columbia Society incorporated in 1983 with the mandate to “enhance, restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat of the Oyster River watershed.” The core of ORES is its volunteer membership of about 350, of whom 50 to 60 actively carry out the work needed to operate ORES’ salmon hatchery in Bear Creek Nature Park.

How did the ORES hatchery come to own a hatchery in the park?

The history begins in 1962 when philanthropist Barrett Montfort donated 1,746 acres (of which 160 would become the park) to The University of British Columbia for agriculture and research. In 2005, UBC sold these holdings to a local farming company. One of the conditions of the sale was that the company would let ORES continue to operate its hatchery. In 2012, the farming company sold what is now the Bear Creek Nature Park to Ducks Unlimited and the Comox Valley Regional District. Five parties provided the funds to buy the land. In alphabetical order, they were: the Comox Valley Regional District, Ducks Unlimited, The Government of Canada, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, and a local philanthropist. The Comox Valley Regional District lets ORES operate its hatchery in the wetlands of the park, which occupy about 60 acres of the park’s total area. ORES owes its presence in the park to the generosity of individuals, the help of different levels of government and charities, and the tireless efforts of its volunteers.

Awards

On November 1, 2001, the Oyster River Enhancement Society received the “Excellence in Stewardship” award from the BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. President Bud Skinner, and Vice President (and past-president) Jitka Petruzelka went to Government House in Victoria to receive the award on behalf of all the volunteers who helped us earn it.

Left to right: Deputy Minister Derek Thompson, Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnolo, Bud Skinner, Jitka Petruzelka, Minister Joyce Murray.

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