The decades-long plan of daylighting the historical creek that once flowed through Tatlow Park and Volunteer Park in the Kitsilano neighbourhood is expected to be approved by the Vancouver Park Board next week.
Next week in a public meeting, Park Board commissioners will review the conceptual design of a restored natural creek that flows and empties out into English Bay.
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Like most other streams that once flowed through Vancouver, at some point during the city’s early development, the stream through this area was buried, with only a small segment in Tatlow Park — south of Point Grey Road — retained.
Both the existing and new creek channel will be lined with plantings and intermittent rocks, boulders, and log features. The creek will have a length of about 175 metres and a width of roughly one metre, but its design and slope are unlikely capable of supporting fish, such as salmon.
The riparian channel’s water supply will be mainly fed by the municipality’s underground separated storm system through a new pipe on Macdonald Street. Water will flow through the Tatlow Park creek and under Point Grey Road, before meandering down Volunteer Park and into English Bay over a naturalized boulder embankment.
Up to 1,500 litres of water per second will be diverted from the storm system and into the creek during the winter when heavy rainfall is typical, while flows of about two litres per second are expected during the summer. However, the size of the storm system catchment area will gradually increase over 15 years, as additional sewer separation projects reach completion.
The entire design of the daylighted creek is intended to create natural water filtering processes, effectively improving the water quality that flows into English Bay and contributing to long-term goals of reopening closed shellfish beds.
“Historically, the creek conveyed groundwater and rainwater through a densely vegetated channel within the local coastal rainforest environment teeming with life,” reads a Park Board staff report.
“As the freshwater creek reached the salt waters of English Bay, the tidal patterns would have facilitated nutrient exchange creating a fertile and abundant aquatic habitat and providing sustenance for the wildlife and people that inhabited this area.”
There will also be improvements to other aspects of both parks, including new gravel paths to provide access to the restored areas, a wild grass meadow next to the creek, 20 new trees, a replacement of the aging playground in Tatlow Park, a wooden bridge lookout at the creek outfall near the northern edge of Volunteer Park, accessible pedestrian access to the shoreline, picnic and bench seating, new bike racks, and interpretive and educational elements.
Design work on the daylighted creek and park improvements began in 2016, and public consultation was held between 2017 and 2018.
Following commissioners’ formal approval of the conceptual design, Park Board staff will begin their work on detailed design, with an aim of tendering the project in early 2021. Construction could begin in Summer 2021, with the restoration and park upgrades reaching completion in eight to ten months.
There are some precedents for daylighting buried creeks in Vancouver.
As part of the Olympic Village project in Southeast False Creek, Hinge Park incorporated a daylighted creek that feeds on the neighbourhood’s storm water system. The natural water filtration system of its design, specifically its wetlands, have contributed to East False Creek’s improved water quality over the years.
The PNE also has a plan this decade to daylight more of Hastings Creek, with a new channel and wetlands running between the Sanctuary Pond — fed by storm water — and a new pond just south of Bridgeway Street. It would largely replace the footprint of the horse barns on the east side of the Hastings Racecourse.
Last year, Vancouver city council approved the long-term concept of a potential regional “blueway” stretching from the Fraser River in New Westminster to East False Creek, via the Brunette River, Burnaby Lake, extending Still Creek to Trout Lake, and daylighting China Creek