Metro Vancouver’s ‘weirdest’ park just won a big award

Burnaby Now

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The Willingdon Linear Park project isn’t a traditional park.

It’s not bad… it’s just a little weird.

It isn’t tucked away in a wooded area. It’s shaped in one long strip. Heck, sometimes I drive by it and forget that it’s actually known as a park.

Cyclists at Willingdon Linear Park.
Photograph By Jennifer Gauthier

Growing up just a few blocks away, this area between Brentwood mall and Hastings was just empty lots with a sort of homemade path to walk or ride your bike along.

Today, it’s an urban trail with stops along the way for people to relax or kids to play in water.

It’s also an award winner. The park has received an Envision Silver Award from the Washington, DC-based Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure.

“It is great that city staff have been recognized for their work in trying to make Burnaby a more connected community,” said Mayor Mike Hurley, in a news release.

“We have started the work of providing more access to safe ways to walk, run, cycle and roll.”

The 1.17-km park opened in July 2018, and consists 13 city blocks of park and trail development along Willingdon Avenue between Hastings Street and Brentwood.

The park accomplishes several goals, according to the city, and meets the needs of the community by:

“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.”

Visitors check out the Parker Street pocket park.
Photograph By Jennifer Gauthier

Key factors contributing ISI’s selection of Willingdon Linear Park for the Envision Silver award include:

Enhancing Public Space: New pedestrian signals provide park and bus stop access from both sides of the street. 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 kept 31 existing trees and added 211 trees. These added trees help maintain and improve air quality along a busy street corridor.

Invasive Species Control and Removal: Before construction, there was extensive Japanese Knotweed. Perennial weeds and invasive plants were removed.

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Editor, Burnaby Now & New Westminster Record. Follow Chris Campbell @shinebox44 on Twitter and Instagram.