Reclaiming Extraction Sites
Most people are unaware that aggregate extraction is a temporary operation. Each site has a fixed lifespan; part of the planning when a site is open and operating deals with the eventual closing and re-establishment of the site to it’s natural state, or to a different planned end use. Remediation, Reclamation, Restoration, Rehabilitation are necessary steps in the mining cycle. In the Greater Vancouver Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria areas there have been some significant projects that have been undertaken over the years. Many people will recognize the names of the places but it is less likely that they know what the origins of these areas are.
Many people are not aware that after a quarry or mine has reached the end of its life cycle, it can become not only a place of value to a community, but also a turned into a beautiful attraction for visitors.
Every aggregate facility in the province has not only an operation plan, but also a reclamation plan for once the site reaches the end of its cycle.
BC has some incredible examples of post-operational success with reclaimed sites, known by travelers internationally. Butchart Gardens, Queen Elizabeth Park and Towne Centre Park, to name a few. These sites were developed into places of beauty over time, but in each case there was a firm vision of the end result, as well detailed strategy to realize this vision. These transitions are a reminder to us all of what can be accomplished with reclaimed quarry and mine sites.
Tourism for these sites generates revenue for the local economies of our communities.The international attention on our reclaimed quarries have turned into a huge economic boost in tourism for the province of BC. These reclaimed spaces are used for sporting tournaments, community events, and seasonal flowers and lights are presented at the gardens year round. Reclaimed sites have been turned into parks and walking trails and are used everyday by people of all ages. Almost all the reclaimed sites that are now green spaces have some redeeming feature that makes them favourite go to spots for locals and visitors alike.
Butchart Gardens, just outside of Victoria in Brentwood Bay, B.C. is a world renowned garden showcase that started life as a rich limestone quarry. When the quarry was exhausted the Butchart’s began the process of reclaiming the pit by creating the Sunken Garden. In the ensuing years more of the site was transformed, section by section, carried on by family members to this day. In 2005 Butchart Gardens was designated a a National Historic Site by the Government of Canada. For a complete history visit www.butchartgardens.com.
Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam B.C. is a man-made lake; originally the Lafarge sand and gravel quarry and processing plant. The land was donated to the city by the Lafarge company in the mid 1980’s and has been developed into a top notch sports, arts and entertainment area know as Towne Centre Park. In addition, the 5 hectare lake is a stocked trout lake providing urban anglers the opportunity to fish without having to go far. For more information please go to www.coquitlam.ca.
Queen Elizabeth Park
Vancouver is home to a real jewel that is not only a multi purpose site but also one of only a handful of reclaimed quarry sites to be visited by royalty. Queen Elizabeth Park sits at one of the highest points in Vancouver and after the quarry was decommissioned, was developed as a water reservoir for the City of Vancouver. The Parks Board acquired the property in 1929 and with the suggestion from the BC Tulip Association, transformed the pit areas over a period of 10 years into sunken gardens. By the early 1960’s a park plan was put into place that developed the rest of the quarry garden areas and laid the foundation for the recreational facilities and attractions. The 52 hectare site is the home to two of the Vancouver water reservoirs, the Bloedel Floral Conservatory, tennis courts, pitch and putt, lawn bowling, rose gardens, and ornamental gardens. The site also boasts a full service restaurant and the Dancing Waters fountain. More information on Queen Elizabeth Park can be found at www.vancouver.ca.
Aldergrove Lake Regional Park
In the Fraser Valley, between Langley and Abbotsford at 8th Ave. and 272nd St., is Aldergrove Lake Regional Park. The park is part of the Metro Vancouver Regional District and is a very popular destination for people of all ages due to it’s accessibility, hiking and horseback trails and the mixture of meadow and forest. A portion of the park was once the site of a sand and gravel pit operation that has now been reclaimed and restored. For more information please visit http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/parks/parks-greenways-reserves/aldergrove-regional-park.
Rotary Stadium, Abbotsford
Rotary Stadium in Abbotsford, located in Abbotsford Exhibition Park, has utilized a large area pit excavation to create a full service 4000 seat stadium facility that includes a natural surface playing field, track, covered stadium and support facilities for teams and administration. The stadium and track have been built up against a former pit wall, giving it a low profile from Discovery Trail road. The area around the stadium is at the same level and has been developed to include soccer fields, baseball diamonds, a baseball stadium, children’s play areas, buildings for club and community use and ample parking for all the facilities.