An old sewage treatment pond in Port Coquitlam believed to contain heavy metals and fecal coliform will be cleaned up and the area turned into a park.
The extensive remediation of Blakeburn Lagoon — which was operated by the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District for sanitary sewer flows for homes and farms until the site was decommissioned in 1978 — has been on the city to-do list for years.
The project includes a 27.2-acre passive park with picnic tables and viewing areas near Blakeburn elementary school, and is expected to cost $2.8 million. It will be paid for with $1.9 million from the joint federal provincial provincial Small Communities Fund, with the city picking up the remainder of the tab, plus $165,500 for parkland amenities not covered by the fund.
An environmental assessment will be required to probe the site and determine the scope of work, with remediation to include removing the old piping and safely disposing of the water and the contaminated silt.
(The sewer water from the neighbourhood was diverted to a trunk sewer system in 1978 and remaining wastes are within allowable limits for park use, according to the city, while rain water, not sewerage, continues to replenish the lagoons, although they occasionally dry up.)
On Monday, when the announcement was made, two herons were standing in the stagnant water and flying around the lagoon.
But it's the transition of the lagoons into a wildlife habitat preserve for exploration and study by residents and Blakeburn students that has the city's mayor excited.
"It opens up an area to the public for enjoyment," said PoCo's Greg Moore, who said he once skated on the lagoons when he was a kid and noted the park plan has been in the works since the 1990s.
Residents have complained about vandalism and odours for years, and plans to turn the area into park was part of the city's 2006 parks master plan, but the city never had enough money to do the extensive remediation work until now. The bulk of the funds will be used to clean up the site.
Once the site is remediated, storm water and flood management systems for the Riverwood neighbourhood will be installed with construction of park amenities, such as trails, a lookout and a picnic area to follow. Completion is anticipated in the summer of 2017.
Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam MP James Moore and Port Moody-Coquitlam MLA Linda Reimer were both on hand for the announcement because the Small Communities Fund is a partnership between the two senior levels of government.
Residents will be consulted as part of the landscaping plan, for more information visit www.portcoquitlam.ca/blakeburn