UBC Graduate Research

How can we make our UNA parks more sustainable? : UNA Hawthorn park demonstration project Colter, Rebecca


High quality urban open spaces are integral to social well being and environmental health. The University Neighbourhood Association (UNA) has many open spaces including parks, woodlands and playgrounds, all primarily functioning as social spaces. Social sustainability is the key function of these open spaces, although the concept of sustainability reaches into the environmental and economic realm as well. The project asks the question: How can we make our UNA parks more sustainable? This question was addressed though two phases (a project definition phase and schematic alternatives phase). In each phase, feedback was obtained through an expert and stakeholder workshop and public open house. In Phase 1, recommendations and benefits of sustainable techniques for the UNA parks were determined by assessing social, environmental and economic sustainability of Hawthorn Park. With these suggestions in mind, for Phase 2, four areas of improvement in the landscape were identified: park participation, park management, park plantings and park reconstruction. With these enhancement themes, three schematic alternative packages for Hawthorn Park were produced: minimal, moderate and maximum interventions in the landscape. UNA residents and local experts then chose and vetoed the recommendations of the three interventions. Top choices selected include reducing or eliminating high maintenance plantings in the park, reintroducing an ephemeral stream to the site, and utilizing infiltrated rainwater in the UBC Botanical Garden. The top vetoes were all associated with community member maintenance in the park. In the open houses and workshop, residents also expressed that any proposed changes to Hawthorn Park should maintain the current level of appearance, ensure safety and maintain property values. Further, any proposed changes should involve community consultation. Looking forward, three scales of recommendations for Hawthorn Park are provided: Minimal Intervention Recommendations - Encourage various community events such as: ~ Fall leaf cleanup ~ Spring weeding day ~ Guided watershed walk from Hawthorn Park through the Botanical Garden ~ Guided “Sustainable Features” walk through the UNA and UBC campus - Experiment with different turf treatments in small grassy areas (less or no mowing, manually maintained, etc.) - Design educational watershed signs Moderate Intervention Recommendations - Replace highly maintained shrubs with native species which are beautiful, encourage habitat and have lower maintenance regimes - Find an appropriate water feature for the park, such as a hand operated pump - Encourage use of rain barrels in the neighbourhood - Allow rainwater to collect in the existing swale Maximum Intervention Recommendations - Reconfigure the stream bed to collect water and possibly introduce aquatic habitat - Thicken the plantings adjacent to the stream - Test out turf alternatives in larger areas - Utilize infiltrated water in the Botanical Garden Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report”.

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