A community celebration on Apr. 28 will officially take the wraps off the award-winning Blakeburn Lagoons Park in northeast Port Coquitlam.

Residents can enjoy refreshments and activities – and check out the park’s trails and vistas for the first time – at the official opening from 1 to 3 p.m. event-goers are encouraged to bring along family, friends and a picnic, and spend the afternoon at the park.

Over the past year, the 11-hectare (27-acre) urban oasis and nature preserve has been constructed on the site of two decommissioned waste settling ponds, a process that recently won Port Coquitlam a Sustainable Communities Award from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

“It’s been wonderful to watch this formerly unused site be transformed into the largest addition to our parks network in decades,” Mayor Greg Moore said. “We know the community is excited to start using this great new space, and we look forward to welcoming everyone on Apr. 28. Until then, we thank everyone for their patience as we allow the final plantings to get established. ”

The official opening party will kick off with remarks from dignitaries and a ribbon cutting, and include refreshments, face painting, hands-on planting, guided walks and other activities. The festivities will take place near the main entry point at the 2900-block of Elbow Place. Parking is available in the lot next to Blakeburn Park off of Riverside Drive. For those walking, the park can be accessed from both Elbow Place and Fremont Street.

The site had been off-limits to the public since 1978, when the settling ponds were closed down. The cleanup and redevelopment were 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.

Park construction began in spring 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.
Park features include:

  • 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 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.

“Aside from providing a new natural destination in our community, Blakeburn Lagoons will play an important environmental role,” said Cllr. Darrell Penner, chair of the city’s Transportation and Public Works Committee. “The new constructed wetland will provide a rich wildlife habitat while also improving water quality and stormwater issues in the area.”

For more information about the project, visit www.portcoquitlam.ca/blakeburn.