So what are those Fish on Fences anyway?

If you live in BC, or perhaps even in other parts of Canada, you’re surely familiar with the painted wooden fish murals that are on fences surrounding school grounds. But do you know why they are there? Or what they represent?

At a Rivers Day event a few of years ago I met Louise Towell who is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. Fish on Fences is her brainchild and evolved from an experience she had more than 15 years ago when a local stream was polluted causing a massive fish kill. Louise wanted to help stop future pollution of our watersheds so she created the Fish on Fences Art meets Education project.

Susannah and I decided to explore the project further so we got together with Louise and created this video about Stream of Dreams, which is now a non-profit organisation.


The main message of the project is that All Drains Lead To Fish Habitat. Whether is a roadside storm drain or a kitchen sink, whatever goes down it will end up in fish habitat.

This is true whether or not a stream is visible. Most of the original streams in our cities were covered over by development and disappeared from view. Many people in BC have never seen wild salmon and do not understand the importance of clean water and salmon survival. Stream of Dreams is dedicated to educating and raising awareness of our watersheds, water pollution, and salmon. Salmon are a keystone species of B.C’s ecosystem with a diverse variety of other species depending on the nutrients they provide.

Over the last decade or so a reverse trend in urban planning has seen daylighting of some streams in Burnaby and in Vancouver. Where these streams have been cleaned up and maintained, fish, including salmon have begun to reappear. Still Creek, which runs through Burnaby and Vancouver is an example of positive development. Once considered one of the most polluted bodies of water in the Lower Mainland, an ongoing joint municipality project to rehabilitate and enhance the 17km creek resulted in the return of salmon in 2012 for the first time in nearly 80 years. Salmon have continued to return every year since then.

Still Creek, Burnaby 2017

There are a number of Streamkeeping Groups and Societies who volunteer their time and energy to ensure that our streams are maintained and improved and that salmon are supported and protected. Check out the Stream of Dreams Murals Society and the Pacific Salmon Foundation to see how you can be involved.

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