On June 6, 2022, Vancouver’s first floating ecosystem was assembled and launched onto Trout Lake as a pilot to improve biodiversity, plant and wildlife habitat in John Hendry Park.

Made from sustainable, non-toxic materials, the 60 square metre island is constructed from a series of interlocking platforms, and planted with native species such as sedges and rushes to support plant and animal life above and below the surface of the water.

Designed to improve water quality as the system grows, the island’s submerged roots create a habitat for millions of microorganisms that consume algae, carbon, and excess nutrients to purify the water. A subsurface forest of roots provides shelter for fish, while varying platforms provide a nesting and preening habitat for birds. The island will be floated towards the middle of Trout Lake to reduce conflict with lake users.

“The impacts of climate change – unseasonably cold temperatures, extreme heat, extended drought – are a continued threat to Vancouver’s environment and wildlife, we must do everything we can as a city to seek new, sustainable ways to support our greenspaces through this climate emergency,” says Chad Townsend, senior planner of Environment and Sustainability at the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. “Not only is this the a positive step in increasing biodiversity in John Hendry Park, it’s also an experiment in testing innovative new solutions to support our local flora and fauna system-wide and improve the natural habitats in which they live long term.”

Finding solutions to the world’s water challenges

The floating habitat is the first of its kind in the Lower Mainland. Supplied by ecological technology company, Biomatrix Water, and donated by BlueTech Research, the island will be added to Trout Lake in celebration of BlueTech Forum. Now in its tenth year, the forum brings together technology and engineering experts, investors, and thought leaders to find collaborative solutions to the world’s water challenges. The installation will offset the carbon emissions of the event, held at Vancouver Convention Centre from June 7 to 8, with a percentage of each ticket going towards its funding.

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“Through our work at Biomatrix, we aim to create an opportunity for people to reconnect with the natural world at the heart of the places where they live,” said Galen Fulford, managing director of Biomatrix Water.

“Natural wetland water systems have been increasing biodiversity and water quality and providing habitats for plants and animals for millennia. The installation of a floating ecosystem at John Hendry Park is an incredible opportunity to help create more thriving ecosystems right within the city of Vancouver.”

John Hendry Park renewal plan

Trout Lake is situated in John Hendry Park on the traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.

Informed by local residents, the Park Board’s recently approved John Hendry Park renewal plan is a long-term vision to ensure the park remains a vibrant and well-loved community gathering space for years to come. Improving biodiversity was one of the core goals identified by residents during recent engagement on park renewal priorities.

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