On June 25, 2019, the new Willingdon Linear Park in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada won the Envision Silver award for sustainable infrastructure from the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure (ISI).
To earn Envision Silver, a project must demonstrate that it delivers a range of environmental, social, and economic benefits to the host and affected communities.
Before development and construction of this project between Brentwood Park and Hastings Street, pedestrian access was poor and the area east of Willingdon Avenue was overgrown with vegetation and rarely used. In a great example of the 3Re Strategy (repurpose, renew, reconnect) in action, this dead space was repurposed and renewed to reconnect and revitalize the local area.
The Willingdon Linear Park provides residents with a safe, accessible pathway with a direct connection between Brentwood Town Centre and Hasting Street; green space; and traffic calming of a busy arterial roadway.
“With the ongoing growth in residential communities around Brentwood Town Centre, traffic volumes will continue to increase over the coming years. The Willingdon Linear Park provides pedestrian, cyclist and public transit user facilities and achieves the City’s desire to foster alternative neighbourhood transportation options,” said Philippe Talbot, Project Manager at Eurovia British Columbia, Inc.
The project consists of approximately 1.17 kilometers of park and trail development, spanning thirteen city blocks. The road rehabilitation and construction of the park included milling of existing asphalt, asphalt replacement, construction of a new multi-use pathway, extensive landscaping, retaining walls, and other features.
The Willingdon Linear Park accomplishes several goals and meets the needs of the community by:
- incorporating multi-use pathways;
- offering safe pedestrian and cyclist road and laneway crossings;
- integrating rest areas and pocket parks;
- enhancing user comfort through park furnishings, lighting, trees, and other features; and
- establishing character and distinction to the area.
The City of Burnaby worked closely with Eurovia British Columbia and ISL Engineering to deliver this award-winning sustainable project.
“Converting unusable space to areas that offer recreational opportunities and a sense of place is a smart move by the City of Burnaby,” said Melissa Peneycad, ISI’s Managing Director. “It is forward-thinking on the part of the City to incorporate well-designed, safe, and accessible passageways for pedestrians and cyclists that are clearly needed alongside busy traffic corridors. ISI is pleased to present the Envision Silver award for sustainable infrastructure to the City of Burnaby for the Willingdon Linear Park project.”
A representative of City of Burnaby added, “In the years leading up to 2010, expanding the roadway from four to six lanes was considered. However, the idea was ultimately rejected and replaced with the plan for a greenway along Willingdon Avenue. This solution was found to be more sustainable and aligned with the needs of the community for today and for the future.”
The Envision sustainable infrastructure framework assesses project sustainability across five categories: Quality of Life, Leadership, Resource Allocation, Natural World, and Climate and Resilience. These key areas contribute to positive social, economic, and environmental impacts on a community during the planning, design, and construction of infrastructure projects.
Key factors contributing to the Willingdon Linear Park project earning an Envision Silver award include:
- Enhancing Public Space
The project is based on the guiding principles of public realm and social expression. New pedestrian signals make the park accessible from both sides of the busy street corridor and improve access to public bus stops. Enhanced bike and walking pathways provide new connections for commuters and recreational users. Pocket parks offer space for organized gatherings, chance encounters, and quiet solitude.
- Reduction of Air Pollutants
The project retained 31 existing trees along the avenue and added 211 trees. This addition to the urban forest will help maintain and improve air quality, especially along a busy street corridor. The project team compared the site’s pre-construction and post-construction conditions and found there would be the potential for a 500% improvement in air quality based on the increased number of trees planted. Also, during construction, the contractor enforced an anti-idling policy that reduced air pollutants from equipment.
- Invasive Species Control and Removal
Management of the park is guided by an Integrated Pest Management approach in accordance with the Canadian Landscape Standard. Before construction, there was extensive Japanese Knotweed. Perennial weeds and invasive plants were identified and mapped by a Qualified Environmental Professional for removal and disposal. Invasive species will continue to be monitored monthly to ensure the control of these species within the park.
All photos are courtesy of the City of Burnaby.