Burnaby's weirdest park just won a big award

Chris Campbell

Not long after I took over as editor of the Burnaby NOW, I heard about a parks project that sounded a little weird.

Not bad, just weird.

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

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."

Willingdon Linear Park, water feature
Kids play in the water feature at the Charles Street pocket park during opening day festivities for the new Willingdon Linear Park. - NOW files

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:

  • incorporating multi-use pathways;
  • offering safe pedestrian and cyclist road and laneway crossings;
  • integrating rest areas and pocket parks;
  • enhancing user comfort through park furnishings, lighting, trees, and other features; and
  • establishing character and distinction to the area.

“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.”

student art, Willingdon Linear Park
Sofija Pidtikanija's The Marsh is one of the student works featured on the utility boxes along the new Willingdon Linear Park. - 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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