Vancouver’s long-buried “First Creek” restored as part of Tatlow Park renewal

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VANCOUVER – A long-buried creek under Kitsilano’s Tatlow Park has been restored, thanks to a multi-year project led by the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation.

Centuries ago, the stream originally known as ‘First Creek’ flowed north from what is now West 20th Avenue through Tatlow and Volunteer parks, before entering English Bay.

Tatlow Creek is a culturally significant place for the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations due to its proximity to a densely populated coastal village.

Over time, as a result of colonial practices and urban development, Tatlow Creek, like many of Vancouver’s streams and creeks, was buried and lost to history.

In 2016, Park Board staff, with support from the City’s Engineering team, began work to daylight the creek and connect it to English Bay while also improving the public’s access to the beach and shoreline.

Visitors can now follow the meandering route of the historic creek through improved green spaces into Volunteer Park, before enjoying the spectacular views of English Bay. A new accessible ramp provides improved access to the beach below.

As part of work to daylight the creek, staff have also restored and reintroduced habitat for birds, pollinators and aquatic species, along with pollutant tolerant plants to help manage rainwater and cool the area.

“Vancouver’s relationship with its rivers, creeks and waterways has been shaped over several centuries”, says Park Board Chair Brennan Bastyovanszky. “The daylighting of Tatlow Creek helps reforge our relationship with the city’s natural surroundings and marks an important milestone in our commitment to building a green rainwater infrastructure.”

The work to daylight Tatlow Creek was made possible through a variety of funding including the City of Vancouver’s Capital Plan and the Government of Canada’s Natural Infrastructure Fund. In 2021, the Federal Government granted $18.9 million to the City of Vancouver and Park Board to help expedite green rainwater infrastructure projects across the city. The Capital Plan is Vancouver’s four-year road map for making significant investments in infrastructure and amenities.

The Park Board is also grateful for the philanthropic leadership provided by the Riley Foundation through its contribution of $700,000 towards the completion of the Tatlow and Volunteer Park project.

Daylighting Vancouver

The history of Tatlow Creek is not unique to this area. Vancouver was once a temperate rainforest with a vast network of natural streams and creeks. As the city developed and grew, streams were directed into pipes, filled in or diverted to manage rainwater and wastewater.

The Park Board and City of Vancouver are committed to exploring more naturalized drainage and flood management approaches, including daylighting, restoring ecological processes, and integrating native plant species across the city.

In addition to the restoration of Tatlow and Volunteer parks, daylighting work is also underway at Still Creek and Canyon Creek.

Learn more about Tatlow Creek at https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/tatlow-and-volunteer-park-stream-restoration.aspx.

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