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Community-minded brownfield plan gives new life to Port Coquitlam site

The City of Port Coquitlam's Blakeburn Lagoons Park project is the 2018 winner in the brownfields category of FCM's Sustainable Communities Awards.

Illustration of the park built on a remediated sanitary lagoon site in Port Coquitlam, BC.
The former waste sanitation pond was transformed into a park and nature preserve using native plants and other natural remediation techniques. (Photo: City of Port Coquitlam, BC)

The City of Port Coquitlam, BC, wanted to return a former sanitary lagoon to public use, but the location showed unsafe levels of contaminants. When funding became available, the City jumped at the chance to transform the area. They came up with an innovative remediation plan that avoided the costly process of removing contaminants from the site, and created the safe, natural green space residents wanted.

City tests innovative self-remediation techniques

The project team used natural techniques to develop a self-remediating site that avoided the cost of removing and replacing contaminated soil and sludge. By mixing the sludge with clean soil, they diluted contaminants and added nutrients so plants could grow. Any areas that couldn't be diluted enough were capped with new materials. To absorb and immobilize remaining heavy metals, the City planted phytoremediation shrubs, plants, grasses and trees.
Over 100,000 native plants provide natural remediation of the brownfield site.

Community gets desired park and access to nature

Before starting the project, the City consulted with the community and learned that residents wanted a natural recreation space - a use supported by the City's Strategic Plan. Residents can now connect with nature on the park's 1.6 kilometres of fully accessible walking trails and viewing platforms. Interpretive signs around the park enhance public education, and the nearby elementary school will use the space as an outdoor environmental studies classroom.

The naturalized surroundings create a wetland and nature preserve, including wildlife-only islands and landscape features that enhance wildlife habitat and food supply. The new plants form six ecological habitats and were installed in varying ages and sizes to increase habitat complexity.

Economically sustainable design also boosts area property values

The park's natural landscape limits ongoing maintenance costs, and linking the ponds to the area's storm systems helps manage runoff and reduce flooding in nearby communities. The redeveloped site increases neighbouring residential property values and makes it possible to develop an adjacent site, which will stimulate local economic growth.

Learn more about this project

Want to develop a similar project in your community? This spring, we'll publish a video of the project team's presentation at FCM's 2018 Sustainable Communities Conference, along with a guide.

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FCM's Sustainable Communities Awards recognize and celebrate sustainability leaders and trailblazers in municipalities of all sizes across Canada.

Page Updated: 01/02/2018