The old Bell-Irving Hatchery building was demolished on Wednesday morning. In its place will be a new hatchery and stewardship centre.
The re-purposed barn in Kanaka Creek Regional Park, which has housed the hatchery for 30 years, was pulled down by Assertive Excavating and Demolition.
It will be replaced by the Kanaka Creek Watershed Stewardship Centre, expected to be built by the spring.
Discussions on rebuilding the hatchery began a decade ago, but urgency increased as the building aged.
"It's certainly paid its dues - it wasn't worth fixing," said Janice Jarvis, natural resource specialist with Metro Vancouver, about the old hatchery building.
Most of the funding, about $250,000, is in place for the project, and Metro Vancouver is tendering bids, hoping to keep the cost under $280,000.
Dave Smith, president of Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society (KEEPS), has lived in the area for about 30 years.
Kanaka Creek Regional Park and its watershed is a "spiritually uplifting" place for Smith, having mother nature in his backyard, with forest and river, wildlife like eagles, watching the seasons change.
"It's so motiving for me - when I need to pump myself up, I go into the park," Smith said. "It's my home - I live in the watershed."
Smith watched as the hatchery fell, visibly excited to see a new phase for KEEPS begin.
The hatchery is expected to be rebuilt by next spring, and the goal is to have a stewardship building ready by 2014.
The fish ponds will stay by the river throughout construction, eventually moving inside the new hatchery building. That will allow some of the riparian area - where the ponds are currently located - to be reclaimed and replanted with native species.
KEEPS provides educational programming to local schools and supports research and community involvement in preserving the Kanaka Creek watershed.
The hatchery provides fish eggs to elementary schools in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district. After they are hatched, the fry are released into the tributaries of the Kanaka watershed.
The hatchery also provides eggs for seven other rivers.
The centre has about 15,000 visitors per year, many of them school children, and has become a regular learning area for the district's environmental school.
Jarvis said Metro Vancouver would also like to have trails and camping for youth programs at the stewardship centre.
Metro Vancouver has committed $500,000 to the renewal project at the fishery, much of it for the stewardship building.
To rebuild the hatchery, $55,000 is coming from Metro Vancouver, $35,000 from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and $30,000 from the District of Maple Ridge.
KEEPS and the Pacific Parkland Foundation have raised about $50,000 for the project.
About half of the funding is in place for the stewardship building, and Jarvis said ongoing fundraising might have to include bottle drives.
And chili cook-offs, Smith added.
"That's how determined we are," Jarvis said.