The Richmond Nature Park has been a significant piece of the city's Parks and Open Spaces inventory since 1970.
The land was acquired the previous year through a trade with the federal government for an equal amount of land on the south shore of the island west of No. 8 Road. As it is Richmond's largest remaining parcel of bog forest, its preservation and maintenance is integral to the health and well being of our community, not only from a global warming perspective in that it acts as a carbon sink, but also in its preservation of a unique flora and fauna landscape.
Through a partnership between the Richmond Nature Park Society (a non profit volunteer board) and the City of Richmond, the nature park offers a variety of programs and events throughout the year to educate and inform the public from preschoolers to older adults about the important features of this unique site in an enjoyable and entertaining manner.
Since its inception, the park has looked much the same with the familiar Nature House, (built in 1976 to replace an earlier donated temporary structure), Kinsmen Pavilion (built in 1971), caretaker's residence, boardwalk, trails and parking lot.
But recently, a number of major improvements have occurred which have given the park a much needed facelift.
Some of these updates include: a covered picnic area with tables capable of accommodating 50 people, new washrooms, and a sheltered visitor kiosk where groups can gather to view maps, program information and signage, and plan their visit.
Also, there has been a major restoration of the landscape area surrounding the Nature House, focusing on local plants that benefit birds, reptiles and small mammals by providing them with food and shelter.
Here also, visitors can learn about water conservation and pesticide-free techniques so they can utilize this knowledge in their own gardens.
A new bird feeding station attracts large numbers of hummingbirds and has benches and an outdoor seating area/performance area.
The buildings have been renovated as well. The Kinsmen Pavilion now has an accessible washroom, new roof, windows and interior flooring.
The Nature House itself has new exterior stairs, accessible washrooms, a new roof, windows, office flooring and a fire system. And the old leaky garage and storage buildings have been replaced with two smaller, more practical structures for storage and workspace.
One of the most exciting endeavours has been the Nature Park Sign and Community Art Project which involved Vancouver based artist, Jeanette Lee working with students from Debeck and Mitchell Schools to create a piece entitled "Green Symphony". This artwork is composed of two parts, the first being the read-o-graph sign which resembles a tree and is not only a visual delight to those driving along Westminster Highway, but also a wealth of information on programs and events upcoming at the Nature Park.
The second is a series of eye-catching sculpture and metal works depicting themes from nature such as a spider's web, a leaf montage, and a bird's nest displayed near the entrance to the Nature House and Kiosk.
Future plans include replacing the current playground equipment in the popular playground area, well used by the many children visiting the park.
If you haven't visited the nature park lately, consider dropping in to enjoy this refurbished jewel in our community and experience its many new facets.
If you'd like to be involved with the park, call 604-718-6188 to see how you can become a member.