Transformation of Blakeburn Lagoons Wins National Award
The transformation of two former waste settling ponds into an urban oasis and nature preserve has earned Port Coquitlam a national award.
The city has received a Sustainable Communities Award in the brownfields category from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for the development of Blakeburn Lagoons Park, to open in May in northeast Port Coquitlam. The term brownfield refers to an under-utilized former commercial or industrial site with redevelopment potential.
“It’s wonderful to be recognized for the work and vision that went into reinventing Blakeburn Lagoons,” Mayor Greg Moore said. “It’s a great story of fulfilled potential – we’ve taken a site that wasn’t serving anyone and turned it into a public amenity that will provide access to nature while enhancing wildlife habitat and improving stormwater management. It’s also the largest addition to our parks network in decades.”
Located east of Blakeburn elementary and north of Carnoustie Golf Club, the 11-hectare (27-acre) site had been off-limits to the public since 1978, when the settling ponds were closed down. The cleanup and redevelopment of the site was made possible in 2015 with $1.9 million in funding from the federal-provincial Small Communities Fund, covering two-thirds of the project’s $2.8 million cost.
The focus on promoting wildlife habitat and enhancing the site’s ecological function was selected during public consultation in 2016, winning out over an alternate park design with more interactive amenities.
Park construction began in 2017 and has included remediation of contaminated soils; reshaping and deepening the lagoons to serve as a wetland habitat for aquatic, bird and other wildlife; and creating spaces for the public to interact with nature. Site remediation work included capping contaminated areas with clean soil and introducing phytoremediation plants to absorb, immobilize and break down heavy metals.
The linked lagoons will be recharged with rainwater from the area’s storm systems, helping to manage stormwater runoff in the Riverwood neighbourhood.
“Blakeburn Lagoons Park will be a place where people can escape from their busy lives and immerse themselves in a natural oasis,” said Cllr. Glenn Pollock, who chairs Port Coquitlam’s Healthy Community Committee. “It’s important that we offer these kinds of experiences, and it will build on our city’s connection with nature – a great source pride for us.”
Blakeburn Lagoons Park will open in May following an opening ceremony (date to be determined) with features such as:
- 1.6 kilometres of looped walking trails,
- A reflective space designated as a place to reflect, heal and honour, with seating, plantings and views of the lagoons,
- Seating, educational signage and a picnic area,
- Viewing platforms at key vantage points,
- Six ecological habitat zones, including more than 100,000 indigenous shrubs and groundcover plants, more than 1,300 indigenous trees and two acres of native grasses,
- Four wildlife-only habitat islands, and
- Vegetative buffers and fencing to protect environmentally sensitive areas from public access.
The remaining work in the coming weeks includes trail completion, some plantings and installation of signs, benches and fencing. The site will remain closed to the public until the opening ceremony in May to allow the new vegetation to establish.
For more information about the project, visit www.portcoquitlam.ca/blakeburn.
For additional information, contact:
Director of Engineering & Public Works
City of Port Coquitlam