Introduction to Pacific Spirit Regional Park
Pacific Spirit Regional Park is located on the University Endowment Lands. This city is located on Point Grey, to the west of the city of Vancouver in British Columbia. The Pacific Spirit Regional Park surrounds the endowment lands of the University of British Columbia. The park is a natural preserve of the British Columbia Government and has been classified under Electoral Area A. The park itself contains over 73 km of area which has been designated for walking or hiking with well laid out trails. 50 km of this area is also available for multiple purposes like cycling and horseback riding.
The purpose of this paper is to study the drainage system at Pacific Spirit Regional Park and make observations as to how the channels and streams which form part of the system have been affected or changed with the passage of time. For this purpose, information has been collected by conducting tours and visits of the park and studying the layout of the area. Additionally, information has also been gathered from secondary sources like online reference materials, journals and planning committee reports. A lot of points have been captured through this study which provides valuable insight into the drainage system and the changes that have been made to this system.
Importance of an efficient drainage system at Pacific Spirit Regional Park
Originally, when the foundations of the city of Vancouver were laid, the original plan for surface drainage included a number of small streams. These streams were extremely effective in drainage of rain water during monsoons and also in maintaining the drainage within the city. Over the years, the changes in the city and new planning systems made it impossible for the drainage system to remain in place. Today, the Pacific Spirit Regional Park is virtually the only place in the city where one can find these small streams which are part of the original drainage system of the city.
For the Pacific Spirit Regional Park, a proper drainage system would have the following advantages:
- It would eliminate the possible of soil erosion and damage to the flora and fauna because of runoffs during monsoons or stagnation of water in the Park.
- A proper drainage system, like the one in place in the Park, can be very efficient in times of construction of storm drains. This is one of the very significant features of the drainage system at Pacific Spirit Regional Park.
- Through this drainage system, excess water can be channeled into rivers and streams or used for other purposes like watering in the park etc.
- With the rapid development of residential areas, the water level in the park has been depleting steadily and by making use of the streams and water islets, the drainage system can be made a part of the restoration project help raise the level of water.
- Irrigation and restoration of the park surface is important to help the vegetation in the park grow back. The drainage system can be very useful in this activity, as well.
- As more use of the park, for several recreational, educational and entertainment purposes, is made the need foreffective drainage system to keep up with the market is also felt, and the current system can address this need to some extent.
- The drainage system can also play a very important role in the management plan which is being designed to manage and bring the issue of cliff erosion under control.
Drainage Pattern at Pacific Spirit Regional Park
As mentioned in the earlier, section, the drainage system in place at the Pacific Spirit Regional Park is part of the original drainage plan of the city of Vancouver. The typical drainage pattern followed during the previous days was to plan the system very consciously so that the runoff from the drains and the sewage system would be emptied into the rivers and streams near the city outskirts. Traces of this design can be seen in this drainage system, as well. It is made of small streams which serve the function of keeping the surface level drainage in order. The streams have been laid down very systematically so that they cover the entire area of the park. He water gets collected into bigger streams as it near the river which serves as an outlet for the drainage system.
The drainage system of the park has also been designed in such a way that different stream serve the purpose of handling different types of drainage. The Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District owns and operates spiral drains which have been designed to handle minor drainage. There are storm drains, which are also part of the entire drainage system, which have been designed to serve the purpose of handling the monsoon runoffs when the rains are at their peak. The positioning of the streams or the drains has been made in a manner so that the water can be collected easily and then channeled into different streams or rivers or made use of for different purposes.
Also worth noting is the fact that the University of British Columbia campus divides the drainage system into a north slope and south slope along a very rough east-west line. While development in the south campus has not been made, planned development may alter the ratio and the design of the drainage system.
Contemporary Conditions of the channels of the drainage system at Pacific Spirit Regional Park
The drainage system in place is very old, and it stands to reason that, over the course of so many years, the system would have suffered a lot of wear and tear. Inspection of the system in the present time reveals certain points which need due consideration:
- The original drainage system of the city of Vancouver has been disrupted in many places, and it is only at the Pacific Spirit Regional Park that it has been found intact and in functional order.
- Observation has revealed that these disruptions in the design of the drainage system have led to a decrease in its efficiency, because some of the streams have been disconnected.
- In some areas, especially those which serve to drain the storm water, the streams have been filled in because of mud, silt and other material which get stuck in the drains during the runoff from the water.
- Some drains which have got damaged have led to the creation of alternate streams because of the water.
- It is not possible to serve and maintain all the streams that are a part of the original drainage system and so some of them remain damaged while others could be repaired with some maintenance.
- On average, the life span of the functionality of the drains is estimated at around 10 years, for those which serve to drain the average flow of water and not the storm drains. After this period has elapsed they need maintenance.
Influence of urban conditions on the drainage system at Pacific Spirit Regional Park
The original drainage system in the city was constructed to maintain and control the flow of excess water during storms and during monsoons. However, with the change in the landscape of the city, construction of buildings and overall urbanization, the original drainage system has proved to play a role in the prevention of some of the environmental problems as well, which have been plaguing this part of the city.
- Cliff Erosion in the city
- Increase of human movement within the park and creation of unauthorized trails as a result of increase in population of the city
- Fall in the water level of the park and the surrounding areas
- Increase in the level of runoffs as a result of cutting down of trees in the area
On the other hand, the drainage system has also contributed towards solution of these problems and can play a significant role in bringing back the ecological balance in this area in the future. Studies have revealed that the drainage system can actually be used to take a positive step towards establishing a balance and controlling the effects of cliff erosion which have been causing major disturbances in the area because of the storm runoffs. The drainage system has also been proposed to be made a part of the environmental protection zone and also a wildlife refuge. The drainage system can also be helpful in increasing the quality of the water in the area and enhancing the natural drainage patterns which are connected from the original system of drainage.
As per the book, titled Vancouver: A visual history, the first drainage system was laid down as early as in the 1850s when the Europeans had settled in this area. Through the years, residential development in this area, which surrounds the University, has forced the concentration of the water drains and the runoff from the drainage system in the catchment area of the Bog. This area is now surrounded by a storm water sewer system, which was not part of the original system. Much of the drainage which would have entered this area as surface and subsurface runoff is no longer doing so.
This is the first result of the urban development on the drainage system. Since the water is no longer entering the park area as it would have if the original drainage system had been in place, the water level of the area would have been maintained. But now, since the channels have been disrupted, there has been a fall in the level of water. The cutting down of trees and destruction of the areas surrounding the park for the residential and commercial development have also contributed to this problem since now there is not enough vegetation to hold the water in place resulting in higher level of runoffs to the rivers. Since the park area does not get an adequate amount of water from the drainage system, the flora and fauna and the ecology of the park is being disturbed.
Another result of the development in the area of the university campus, many of the creeks in the South campus have been significantly altered in the last 30 years, which have caused changes to the natural drainage system. Some of the creeks in this area which have been affected because of this urban development are Booming Ground Creek, Botanical Garden Creek and Trail 7 Creek.
The drainage design at the Pacific Spirit Regional Park is one of the oldest in the city which has survived the rapid burst of urbanization in Vancouver. While the design is old, it can still make a number of contributions towards the city development. There are a number of actions that can be taken to restore ecological balance and to keep the park well nourished and green. The drainage system of the Pacific Spirit Regional Park can play a very important role in ensuring that the park does not meet any more significant damage. (Parminter, J., 1983)
- Construction of two drainage structures or special catchment basins can help in creating a reservoir which can store water. This would be useful in bringing up the level of water and making use of the water stored these drains.
- There are areas in the park where there is a problem of stagnation of water because the drainage system has become redundant in those regions. Construction of sewer pipes can remedy this problem and reinstate the effectiveness of the original drainage system.
- The preservation of the natural drainage systems and drain patterns can also be useful in the creation of ecologically sensitive zones which can maintain or enhance the security of sensitive areas and zones of the city as well as of the park itself.
- The drainage system can be protected by declaring areas of the park as Environment Protection zone. This would make it possible to preserve the natural drainage system and also increase the quality of the water since there would be fewer chances of pollution in these regions.
It is important that people of the city realize the immense value that the natural drainage system of the park and the unique drainage system can add to the maintenance of the ecological balance and also in ensuring that there is no cliff erosion and that the water level is also maintained. Significant damage to the ecology and to the drainage system can disrupt the course of the water and in times of rains, monsoons or storms there would be a number of problems which would then be difficult to address. There are several areas in the park which need to be studied in further detail and steps need to be taken to ensure that the drainage system is maintained well.
Parminter, J. 1983. Fire-ecological relationships for the biogeoclimatic zones and sub zones of
the Fort Nelson Timber Supply Area: summary report. Planning, Development, and Research
Section, Protection Branch, Ministry of Forests. Victoria, B.C. iii + 53 p.