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'Degraded' Central Park ponds are in need of an overhaul says city

Much-needed changes could be coming to Burnaby’s Central Park ponds.

The upper pond at Central Park. (Shawn.ccf/ Shutterstock)

Much-needed changes could be coming to Burnaby’s Central Park ponds.

The man-made pond system was created 60 years ago, and is now “time-worn and polluted” and requires a “complete overhaul to achieve a biodiverse and compelling park amenity,” according to a city staff report.

The focus on refurbishing the pond system comes after the adoption of the Management Plant by council in 2009, when staff were directed to initially work on restoration and resiliency planning of the Douglas Fir forest.

“As work on the Perimeter trail was completed, the focus was turned to the Central Park ponds and the evaluation of the condition that would determine the reinvestment required to re-establish them as a feature within the park,” states the report.

The pond system itself is made up of two artificial open-water ponds, joined by linking artificial streams. The pond is filled by a municipal water source that enters the upper (north) pond and flows into the lower pond.

The report describes the banks of the pond as “degraded and eroded”, with some locations that are inhabited by invasive plant growth—and adds the water quality is poor, as waterfowls dirty the water and high temperatures in the summer “exaggerate these problems.”

In order to improve the ponds’ aquatic sustainability, staff conducted a detailed review of water consumption, losses, and gains.

The ponds currently depend on treated municipal water and consume 100,915 cubic metres per year, which is equivalent to filling Central Park Pool 69 times a year.

There is also a seepage through the pond floor, resulting in a water loss of 88,000 cubic metres  per year.

The report says the redevelopment of the ponds and installing a new water recirculation system could reduce water losses by 88% per year.

“It is clear that substantial work would be required to redevelop the ponds. Many structural elements including the water body edges, aquatic system and water circulation system need to be replaced or redeveloped,” states the report, adding that amenities like fixed decks, a floating dock, fencing, and planting are also needed.

The total cost of refurbishing and redeveloping the ponds is estimated at $14-16 million. The report provides a financial breakdown, noting that the pond reconstruction program (earthworks, soft landscapes, hydrological systems) is estimated to cost $4-6 million.

The addition of structures (docks, boardwalks, trails, and shade structures) will be around $10 million.

The pond upgrades would be part of the Central Park Master Plan, which would “provide a vision and principles to guide the development of the park over the next 5-10 years,” states the report.

During Monday’s city council meeting, Heather Edwards, the city’s senior manager of park planning, said that dealing with the water loss is more than just dealing with “one leaky pipe.”

“We have the entire basin bottom of the ponds leaking, so it really calls for a complete rebuild so that in itself is a major investment if we’re going to go that route,” she said.

Council voted in favour of staff creating a Central Park Master Plan that would provide further details and steps the city could take to refurbish the ponds.