Sunbury Neighbourhood Association

the Now - November 16, 2007

Reclaimed landfill is eyed for bog centre

Sandor Gyarmati, Surrey Now

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Vancouver Landfill could be home to an interpretive centre for Burns Bog.

The idea, which has been floated before, came up again at Delta council last week as civic politicians discussed the new Burns Bog Management Plan. One of the components of that plan is public education.

Access is generally limited to the bog, although the public can visit the Delta Nature Reserve east of Highway 91. The nature reserve has a boardwalk loop for visitors, constructed by the Burns Bog Conservation Society.

Mayor Lois Jackson said educational programming is needed, but she's concerned about how that can be delivered without disturbing the bog.

Jackson said she would suggest to Metro Vancouver (formerly the Greater Vancouver Regional District) the eventual construction of an education centre at a section of the Vancouver Landfill that's going to be reclaimed.

"At some point in time the Vancouver Landfill is going to be turned over to our municipality. I guess my vision has been for a very, very long time that we consider putting an ecological scientific learning centre on the Vancouver Landfill site," said Jackson, who chairs the Metro Vancouver board.

"It would also focus on climate change and ecological studies. I'd be concerned if we tried to deliver that out of the Delta Nature Reserve when there's really very little opportunity in there to bring people in massive form and find parking."

Saying without education the bog wouldn't have been saved in the first place, Councillor Vicki Huntington noted an interpretive centre has to be close enough to the bog so people can experience it, otherwise they may has well only be looking at pictures and videos.

"At least at the Delta Nature Reserve, Metro Vancouver and the (Burns Bog) conservation society can develop programs that can allow people to use and access the boardwalk areas so they can understand what a bog is like, even if they can't go into the real area of the bog."

Huntington added: "I'm sure the education plan will not be massive at this stage, but we can go forward over the years looking at a larger facility as the mayor perhaps envisions. But without access and without being able to see and experience a bog, the educational component doesn't give a great deal."

Jackson said although she has no problem with people accessing the Delta Nature Reserve, a large centre isn't appropriate there.

The Burns Bog Conservation Society previously stated it had several concerns, including safety, when it came to an interpretive centre at the reclaimed section of the landfill. The society, instead, lobbied for a site on 72nd Avenue where a peat processing facility was once located.

Society president Eliza Olson now says she may support and become involved with an education centre at the landfill, as long as it's based on good science, good economics and good environmental practices.

"We would be more than thrilled to have it named the Lois Jackson Interpretive Centre because we realize the mayor has not received sufficient recognition for her work behind the scenes," Olson said.

As far as giving the public another way to have closer access to the bog, currently being developed is the Delta South Surrey Greenway. It will follow an existing utility corridor along the eastern boundary of Burns Bog and will connect with the eastern boundary of the nature reserve as well as Watershed Park. The trail is outlined in the management plan under the section describing education.

Olson, meantime, pointed out that even though her society has a wealth of scientific data and expertise, it was shut out when the new management plan was developed, and the society for some reason continues to be left out.

Surrey Now 2007

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