A Breakthrough Plan To Kick-start Metro Vancouver’s Economy Waits Shovel Ready For Federal Funding

Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant Project
(Update June 6th, 2020) – After accidentally overlooking their contribution to this proposal, we’ve now included the local architect of record)
To say our lives have been hectic lately would be an understatement. Not only have we been dealing with Darren’s father’s estate, but we have also decided to move forward with our plans to get married this month too. Still, we have done our best to make time for our passion, and though this event was scheduled the same time as another for a new, beautiful West End proposal, we were able to attend both since they were held online.

The later has seen plenty of discussion, but this one has flown under the radar. That might be appropriate given its location, but given the recent toilet paper shortage, I thought the replacement of the Iona Island Wastewater Plant would have draw a bit more attention. After all, this project expects to create hundreds of new construction jobs over the coming decade, lead to dozens of permanent positions, and provide enough electricity to serve 50,000 new apartments (pg 27).

Iona Wasterwater Plant (3)

Like the False Creek NEU, this thermal recovery network could potentially power YVR, Richmond City Centre, UBC, and as far north as the Oakridge Centre and Heather Lands. Obviously, it could also serve the lands governed by the Musequem, and it was hoped this nation would partner with Metro Vancouver on other ecological projects too. Already these talks have brought significant changes, as the site of the new plant was shifted eastward to preserve a culturally significant view of Vancouver Island (pg 50).

This is only one of many planned changes under the recommended Concept 2, but unlike past developments, this one will seek to restore this estuaries natural balance. By far the most noticeable will once again turn this land into a real island, as the 1960s-era causeway will be broken up, reopening a badly needed resting place for salmon on their journey to the ocean and maturity (pg 32). This will not just benefit future generations of sea-life, but humans as well.

Iona Wasterwater Plant (2)

Rather than dispose of this removed soil, it will be used to pre-load the site of the new plant to ensure it survives our region’s eventual “big one.” With sea level forecast to rise between 3 – 5 feet by 2100, more dirt will be trucked in to raise critical infrastructure as high as 7 feet. Other areas will be transformed into tidal marshes (pg 44) or, like the vulnerable stretch up to the new parking lot, gradually built up as well.

That said, as this location is already considered a prime biking spot, there will be a focus on active transportation, with bike lanes included on the bridge to this renewed island. I am sure many of the roughly 400,000 people who visit Iona Beach Regional Park every year will welcome that change. The hope is that a reconfigured road network, a new front-of-house building, updated pathways, and several look-out pavilions (pg 47) will make this regional park even more inviting.

Iona Wasterwater Plant (1)

Yet several of the 55 participants were more relieved there will be no net-loss of wildlife habitat, with some places becoming more inaccessible to protect this Pacific Flyway stopover. Others were concerned the jettys will remain inhospitable, as various challenges prevent the addition of washrooms, and the envisioned breaches to restore this coastal habit. Ultimately, the 4km southern arm, like the four recently upgraded digesters, will be retained for plant operations, while the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority controls the North Jetty.

In all likelihood it will be a higher power that determines the fate of our region’s sewer system, as there will be plenty of federal reviews needed, and to date no funding has been provided. It was made clear this would be a great project to kick-start our local economy, and if you agree, make sure to write you local MP or MLA. Meanwhile, whether you have any comments or suggestions you should send them to ionawwtp@metrovancouver.org on or before June 9th, 2020.

You can view all of the slides from the event here, or see the ten we spotlighted on Instragram here.

Applicant Team Information:

Developer Metro Vancouver
ArchitectsThe Miller Hull Partnership, LLP
Local Architects – Local Practice Architecture + Design Ltd.
Landscape Architects – space2place

One thought on “A Breakthrough Plan To Kick-start Metro Vancouver’s Economy Waits Shovel Ready For Federal Funding

Add yours

  1. Congratulations on your upcoming marriage!
    Longtime reader, first time commenter – look forward to every post, including this one. As one of the 400,000 who visits the park (often), I’m glad to see all the win-win aspects of Concept 2.

    Liked by 1 person

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