Richmond councillors are considering construction of an ecology walkway along Sturgeon Bank, in Terra Nova Park.
The walkway was first proposed in late 2019 at a parks, recreation, and cultural services committee meeting. It comes back to that same committee this week.
The area is a significant ecological site that hosts large numbers of migratory birds. It also has its own policies to protect natural habitat along the dike, with adoption of a specific park concept plan in 2004.
According to a staff report, the walkway proposed in 2019—in the form of a boardwalk—is different from the park’s own concept plan. Benefits would include educational opportunities and good views of the surrounding environment.
However, the location is challenging for a few reasons, as construction could negatively impact vegetation and wildlife. Additionally, multiple permits and approvals would be required from senior government agencies and regulatory bodies, including the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and local First Nations.
“A portion of the area is designated ‘Red’ under DFO’s Habitat Classification. This ‘Red’ designation is considered high-growth habitat/vegetation within federal and provincial environmental regulations. This condition would create a very challenging approval process to attain permission from DFO and (the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development),” the report says.
The area’s heritage and natural attributes are being studied by staff as part of a Terra Nova Heritage Precinct Plan. Staff recommend design of the ecology walkway after that study concludes, if council is in favour.
The new plan will make recommendations for the future of Terra Nova Park, including a possible ecology walkway.
Discussion will take place at this week’s parks, recreation, and cultural services committee meeting on April 26.
Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel