By Danauca Dory and Kristian Trevena
What used to be Vancouver’s largest landfill is now a biodiverse park enjoyed by families across the city.
A large part of South Vancouver’s community, Everett Crowley Park was the Kerr Road landfill from 1944 to 1967. According to a sustainability report done by Lorraine Campbell and the Greenest City Scholars Program, the landfill was officially closed down in 1967 after the waste reached 49 metres high. Many ideas were proposed for the land after the closure, including a pioneer farm and a hang gliding site. In 1987, several trails and viewpoints were added and the park was named after former Avalon dairy owner and parks commissioner Everett Crowley.
A community hub
Since the opening of the park, many people have used it to spend time with their families and walk their dogs. “We love the park because of the beautiful well maintained trails and the fact that it’s off-leash, allowing the dogs some much needed exercise and playtime,” said Kimberly Rosas, owner of Wanderlust Dogs, “It’s also a great walk to do with kids so we go there for some good family time in nature.”
Raven Light, a Vancouver resident, is a frequent visitor to Everett Crowley Park. She has used it to forage for herbs around the area. “It’s a good place for kids and dogs. It would be good if someone is homeschooling their kid, you know it would be a good place to take them for them to learn about nature,” Light said.
A brief history
The park is located in the Champlain Heights area of South Vancouver and spans 38 hectares. The park is home to a pond, creek and a flower-filled meadow that hosts a “bee condo”.
Because the park was built on a landfill, tests were completed by SynergyAspen Environmental and the City of Vancouver from 2012 to 2015 to ensure that the park was up to health and safety standards, and to ensure it is a safe place for visitors and wildlife. Some native species of plants have not come back in abundance as they once did before the area became a landfill. Restoration efforts by the city and the Everett Crowley Park Committee, which organizes the city’s largest Earth Day event in the park, are restoring native plant species in the space.
Everett Crowley Park is not the first of its kind. Landfills across the world have been converted into parks over the last couple decades. In 2037, the city-owned Vancouver Landfill and Recycling Depot in Delta is set to close. Talks are underway to decide what to do with the area after the closure, with the possibility of also turning it into a park.
Invasive species and restoration
Everett Crowley Park is home to a rich array of plant species, both native and invasive, according to a 2017 report published by Lorraine Campbell and the Greenest City Scholars Program.
Some of the native plant species include Douglas fir, cedar, Garry oak, cottonwood, ocean spray and red elderberry sapling, to name a few.
These native plant species are currently at risk with the invasive plant species that are growing throughout the park. Plants and shrubs like Himalayan blackberries, morning glory, English ivy and scotch broom can interfere with the natural growth of native plant species by choking and smothering their roots,
Restoration efforts are in place at the park to encourage native plant growth, with park workers clearing out the invasive species. Despite the threat of the invasive plants, the report states that “Overall, plant health and sapling survival of planted trees and shrubs of average or above average health on all sites.” It adds another issue within the park is plants suffering in drier weather.
The Everett Crowley Park Committee, which assists in park projects and improvements, participates in planting native species and removing invasive ones, according to the committee website.
The City of Vancouver and the park committee were unable to comment about the park at this time.
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