Vancouver Sun, Oct.28, 2014 – Park Board decides to restore Beaver Lake in Stanley Park to its natural state.

Multi-million-dollar plan includes dredging, removal of invasive species

 BY YVONNE ZACHARIAS, VANCOUVER SUN OCTOBER 28, 2014

 A Beaver Lake rescue plan approved by the park board will include dredging of the lake, the construction of four new viewing platforms, new boardwalks and much greater bio-diversity in terms of both plants and animals.

Photograph by: Mark van Manen , Province

Beaver Lake, one of the focal points of Stanley Park, has been saved from the brink of extinction by a bold new multi-million-dollar plan approved by the Vancouver park board Monday evening.

Overgrown with lilies and filling up with silt and decaying plant matter, without intervention the lake was destined to vanish and become a meadow by 2020.

A $2-million to $6-million rescue plan approved by the park board will include dredging of the lake, the construction of four new viewing platforms, new boardwalks and much greater bio-diversity in terms of both plants and animals.

Frogs, turtles and wildlife that have largely vanished from the ecologically stressed area are expected to return once the lake and its surrounding area are cleaned up.

The project is the swan song for park board chairman Aaron Jasper, who vacates the position with new municipal elections next month. He is proud of this accomplishment, which he says dovetails with the board’s efforts to not only offer the public parks and recreation facilities, but also to restore parts of Vancouver to their original natural ecosystems.

The plan approved for Beaver Lake strikes the delicate balance between restoring and preserving nature and providing access to the public, Jasper said.

He also noted that the Stanley Park Ecology Society and the three area First Nations were all involved in the planning.

Through consultation leading up to the decision, the public and stakeholders in the park were resounding in their view that they wanted the lake preserved rather than allowing it to run its natural course, Jasper said.

“Right from the get-go, we recognized the ecological importance of this fresh water body and the public supported that,” he said.

After being handed four concepts by consultants, Jasper said the board chose the one that had the highest ecological value but still allowed for human recreation in the form of walking trails, viewing platforms and plenty of opportunities for tours for schoolchildren, tourists and nature lovers.

Although this plan might have higher upfront costs than the other proposals, he said, the maintenance costs will be lower in the long run.

While removing invasive plant species like lilies and narrow leaf cattail, the plan will also involve replanting with natives species that are appropriate to the area.

The entire plan replicates natural coastal B.C. wetlands.

On a more practical matter, bathroom facilities will be installed nearby for the comfort of visitors.

Over the next 12 to 18 months, park board staff and consultants will be fine-tuning the plan. The wide range in estimates from a low of $2 million to a maximum of $6 million arises largely because it is not yet known how much sediment has to be removed from the lake and possibly shipped off site and how much can be kept to construct islands or to create other habitat areas.

With the cleaning up of Beaver Creek and the installation of a fish ladder, people will be able to see the spectacle of fish naturally returning to the lake.

“From those who love frogs to those who really want to understand the spiritual significance of this space to the three First Nations, it will be all of that,” said Jasper.

yzacharias@vancouversun.comTwitter:@yzacharias

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