Manager, Infrastructure Habitat Development, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, British Columbia, Canada
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation began collaborating on opportunities to enhance habitat in suitable parts of the City of Vancouver in 2013. The New Brighton Park Shoreline Habitat Restoration Project was identified as a mutually beneficial project meeting the objectives of both the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s Habitat Enhancement Program and the City of Vancouver’s 2010 Hastings Park/PNE Master Plan.
In 2015, the port authority began working closely with the Park Board on feasibility studies, project planning and the development of a public consultation and engagement plan. The project team established a Stakeholder Advisory Group that included park users, community group members, biologists and representatives from environmental stewardship organizations.
The project was also developed in collaboration with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. The involvement of these three Nations throughout the various stages of the project – design, consultation and construction – was a key component of project delivery.
About the project
New Brighton Park was one of the few undeveloped sections of shoreline in Burrard Inlet in which a saltmarsh could be created. The site, which had been filled in after historically being used for lumber-related industries, was selected based on its potential to benefit a broad range of fish and wildlife species, and to increase the overall ecological health of the area.
The completed project now provides over 2 hectares of intertidal, subtidal, instream and riparian habitat in the north east corner of the park. These environments provide high-value habitat for a broad range of species, including juvenile salmon that migrate through Burrard Inlet; waterfowl and gulls that seek protected water during the winter; songbirds that nest in shrub thickets near water; and native bees that forage on flowering plants in meadow habitats.
Project design was developed by a multidisciplinary team, including professional biologists, coastal engineers and landscape architects, and in collaboration with the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.
The team first completed an early engagement process with key stakeholders including adjacent residents and interested park users, to determine the scope of the consultation and methods to be used. In collaboration with the City and Park Board a robust public consultation process was developed, including four rounds of consultation regarding the design and amenities of New Brighton Park. In all, hundreds of pieces of feedback were received during the consultation and engagement process and were considered in refining the project design.
Musqueam First Nation, Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation have been actively engaged in project consultation from the outset and have clearly articulated their connection to the proposed project area as well as their past, current and future desired use of the area.
In consultation with Aboriginal groups, the port authority developed an approach to consultation for the project that reflects the specific preferences, needs and interests of the Nations engaged on the proposed project. A separate three-nation technical advisory group was formed for the project and three design meetings/workshops occurred, as well as three site visits to share knowledge and receive input from the nations.
The project team has sought input from Aboriginal groups to ensure that community knowledge informs the planning and design of the project as well as project planting plans. In accordance with the objectives of the Habitat Enhancement Program, the project team provided training and employment to support Aboriginal businesses during construction of the proposed project.
The project team was excited to see that, even before the project’s completion, juvenile chum and Chinook salmon were observed using the newly created tidal wetland as a stopover on their way through Burrard Inlet.
An event to re-open the park was featured on the front page of the September 22nd 2017 edition of The Vancouver Sun. The story included the following quote from John Konovsky, a biologist with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation: “This is one of the great opportunities. With good planning, they can go hand-in-hand — a healthy Burrard Inlet and C.
Ms. Olson is a Project Management Specialist for the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, Canada’s largest port. Working within the port’s Infrastructure Sustainability Division, Ms. Olson is responsible for overseeing a project portfolio. This includes providing team leadership and project management to a multi-disciplinary team on large-scale habitat enhancement projects across the port’s jurisdiction. Ms. Olson plays an important role in helping the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority fulfill its mandate of facilitating Canada’s trade objectives, ensuring goods are moved safely, while protecting the environment and considering local communities.
Ms. Olson has 15 years of environmental and project management experience with previous roles as Manager, Environment at Seaspan ULC, and Project Geoscientist at SNC Lavalin Environment. Ms. Olson holds a Masters Certificate in Project Management from York University’s Schulich School of Business, as well as a Bachelors of Science in Earth Sciences from Simon Fraser University. In her spare time Ms. Olson enjoys backcountry pursuits into the mountains as well as cycle touring adventures.