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Update considered for Minoru’s ‘Lakes District’

By Don Fennell

Published 10:26 PDT, Thu April 29, 2021

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

Staff report proposes upgrade of popular inner-city area

An update is being considered for Richmond’s beloved “Lakes District.”

As part of city council’s strategic plan for 2018-2022, staff has drafted a report of a Minoru Lakes renewal project for council’s consideration. If approved, the next step would be to proceed to the awarding of a contract and construction stages.

In the report submitted by Parks Services director Todd Gross, staff notes that the Minoru Lakes were designed and constructed in the 1970s, nearing some 50 years ago.

“Due to their age and general wear-and-tear, the lakes infrastructure including the pump, liner and banks have surpassed the end of their useful life and have failed. As a result, the water quality is poor in terms of health-and-safety and aesthetics,” the report says. “As a result, the water quality is poor in terms of health-and-safety aesthetics. Over the past several years, allocation of city resources towards maintenance of the lakes, including potable water and staff time, have increased.”

Meanwhile, the neighbourhood around the area has also continued to grow. From 2011 to 2016, the population of the city centre increased by 25 per cent and has seen the highest density development in Richmond. About 20,000 people reside within a five-minute walk of Minoru Lakes and that number is expected to double by 2041. The report suggests the existing park infrastructure such as pathway widths, furnishings and landscapes no longer meet the needs of an ever-growing surrounding community.

Originally envisioned in the 1970s as a pastoral strolling garden centered around reflecting ponds, the area remains largely unchanged and remains a popular feature of Minoru Park. The report suggests that should largely be retained as a central feature of the area. This is also based on feedback received during the Minoru Park Vision Plan process.

The proposed lakes have a surface area of about 7,000 square metres and a volume of 9,000 cubic metres. Depending on the extent of damage to the existing liner, the report suggests either repairing or replacing it with geotextile that has a protective aggregate layer overtop. The proposed depth would be 1.4 metres maximum, with the edges of the lakes finished with a durable stone and concrete retailing walls.

The report also recommends the primary north entry align with Alderbridge Way to improve connections to the growing Richmond Olympic Oval and Lansdowne Village areas north of Westminster Highway. 

New seating areas of varied scales are also proposed to be installed along the lake edge, along with a renewed east-west bridge, and improved canal bridge crossings.

As well, the current north island would be removed and replaced. The existing north island is lower than the proposed lakes’ high water level and it contains willow trees that are in poor condition. The new island would include a bridge connection and viewing platform both for public and maintenance access. As well, two new flexible open spaces are to be included on the northeast and southeast sides of the lakes. These areas would offer opportunities to gather, relax, connect with nature, and view the lakes. Both areas would include picnic tables, information seating, open lawn, and shaded trees.

Photo by Jaana Björk

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