Habitat and Biodiversity Enhancements at the former Farm in Queen's Park

Implementation of the Queen’s Park Farm Transition Master Plan (adopted by Council in 2023) will take place during the spring and summer months of 2024. City staff will be collaborating with land-based artist Dr. T’uy’t’tanat Cease Wyss (Skwxwu7mesh, Sto:lo, Hawaiian, Swiss), as well as Indigenous youth artists and creators throughout the process. This plan will make stronger connections between people, land and the systems that sustain life in New Westminster.

What’s Happening?

Phase 1 of the farm transition weaves undulating Coast Salish forms into the landscape to restore the soil and create habitat. These restorative features support native fauna and flora, while honouring Indigenous cultures that have been custodians of these unceded and unsurrendered lands and waters since time immemorial:

  1. Hugelkultur: These are mounds made by heaping woody material (i.e. boughs and branches from coniferous trees such as cedar, fir, hemlock, pine and spruce; and branches, leaves, and trunks from deciduous trees such as alder, maple, hazelnut, indigenous plum). The 1.2m to 1.5m high mounds are topped with nutrient-rich humus soil, bark mulch and compost. Over time these mounds will decompose and settle to create a highly fertile, moisture-retaining garden bed for growing plants that don’t need watering or fertilizing. This method for establishing plant life is especially important during the extended hot, dry periods as a result of climate change.

  1. Swales and Berms: Swales are shallow depressions in the ground that accumulate rain during storms and allow it to infiltrate into the soil. Swales are often lined with plants, trees and shrubs that store and clean the water. Berms are raised landscape areas that direct water to swales. When rainwater runoff is managed through a series of berms and swales, it can be a low-cost solution to creating healthier, cleaner water for people, nature and fish.
  1. Mushroom Wall: Vertical logs will be stacked together to create a “Log Raft” to demonstrate the diversity of mushroom species that grow on old logs in the forest.  When trees die or fall, they decompose and become part of a nutrient cycle that is vital to a healthy forest ecosystem. Mushroom mycelium often colonize the decaying tree, helping to digest the wood and break it down into soil. There are many mushrooms and fungi in the forest that benefit the environment and humans (i.e. as medicine, food source, recyclers and help trees communicate through mycelium networks). It is important to recognize that many of these mushrooms are poisonous to humans and can cause root disease for trees. 
  1. Nurse Log: A fallen tree that provides ecological benefits and support to other plants as it decomposes. Seedlings often sprout and start their growth on the surface of a log demonstrating the process of forest evolution from generation to generation.
  1. Wetland Bog: A wetland ecosystem has standing water for most or all of the year.  A bog is wet and spongy with poorly drained dark soil that supports plants such as moss, sedges and low-growing shrubs.  They are home to fish, birds and other animals, and are essential for breeding, nesting and feeding needs.

Additional improvements at the former farm include: renovation of the outdoor pavilions so they are usable for outdoor public classes/workshops; installation of a wooden boardwalk; and removal of the perimeter chain-link fence.  

PROJECT TIMELINE

The Masterplan includes a phased approach towards transitioning the former petting farm to now support nature and outdoor programming/activities that create a lasting base of environmental literacy, stewardship, and connection to biodiversity and habitat. Phase 1 will help support a variety of new, year-round programs/ activities and evaluate if/how the detailed plans for the Habitat Area may be amended to better support their success. 

Phase 1 implementation (highlighted in red in the site plan below) is currently underway with completion anticipated in late spring/early summer 2024, in order to be available for both programming and public use.

project images

Photos below by Soloman Chiniquay. 

Project contact

For more information, please contact Sloane Elphinstone at