A newly realigned portion of the Delta Nature Reserve boardwalk is now open to the public.
B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure removed a 186-metre stretch of the existing boardwalk this fall to make room for a new vehicle ramp at the Highway 91 and Nordel Way interchange, replacing it with a new 167-metre section located just east of the previous path.
“Burns Bog is an iconic landmark for Delta and a place that brings our community together,” Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon said in a press release on behalf of Transportation Minister Rob Fleming. “I’m grateful stakeholders and government worked collaboratively on this important realignment. As a frequent visitor of the Delta Nature Reserve and a supporter of the Burns Bog Conservation Society, I very much look forward to visiting this new section of the boardwalk with my family.”
The project — which was planned in consultation with the City of Delta, Metro Vancouver and the Burns Bog Conservation Society — also improves accessibility to environmental features such as the hardhack meadow, and adds four new viewing platforms which allow visitors to take a closer look at the diverse bog ecosystem.
“Having safe access to nature is essential to mental health and reducing stress, especially during COVID-19 times,” Delta MP Carla Qualtrough said in a press release on behalf Catherine McKenna, federal minister of infrastructure and communities. “It’s great to see the Delta Nature Reserve Boardwalk realignment now complete so the community can continue to enjoy the special beauty of Delta’s ecosystems, plants and animals.”
The boardwalks and trails in the Delta Nature Reserve provide the only public access to Burns Bog. The 2,821-hectare peatland is the largest raised bog on the west coast of the Americas and the largest undeveloped landmass in North America.
In 2004, the City of Delta, Metro Vancouver, and the provincial and federal government agreed to purchase 2,043 hectares of the bog as an ecological conservancy, and adding another 435 hectares of bog to the protected area over the years.
Most recently, five land parcels totalling 321 hectares (793 acres) were added to the conservation area this past September, including the Delta Nature Reserve. The newly-added lands are jointly owned by the City of Delta and Metro Vancouver and will be maintained and operated by the region in a manner consistent with the rest of the properties already under protection.
In total, over 87 per cent of Burns Bog is currently protected and managed as a natural ecosystem.
“The Delta Nature Reserve boardwalk is a wonderful amenity that allows unique public access to Burns Bog. We appreciate the partnerships that have facilitated this work to allow people to once again enjoy the beauty of nature in this area up close,” Delta Mayor George Harvie said in a press release.
The new stretch of boardwalk includes four new memorial benches honouring those who helped build the boardwalk in the mid-1990s and offering visitors a spot to rest and observe the hundreds of different plant, animal and insect species in the bog.
“We are really happy with the quality of the realigned section, and it provides a good vision of the work that needs to be done on the remaining sections of the boardwalk,” Nikolai Karpun, research and stewardship co-ordinator with the Burns Bog Conservation Society, said in a press release.
“It is also great to see the new memorial benches with the plaques dedicated to those who supported the society when the boardwalk was first constructed. This was an important expectation for the Burns Bog Conservation Society, and we’re appreciative of the collaborative process led by the province.”
The boardwalk realignment and new vehicle ramp at the Highway 91 and Nordel Way interchange are part of the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s $260-million Highway 91/17 and Deltaport Way Upgrade Project package.
This phase of the project includes a number of safety and capacity enhancements such as better acceleration and merge lanes and new interchanges on Highway 91, Highway 17 and the Highway 91 Connector aimed at increasing highway efficiency and providing an easier commute for residents and commercial vehicles.
Included in the project are improvements to Highway 91 at the Nordel Interchange, upgrades to the Highway 91 Connector at the Nordel Way intersection, a new interchange at Highway 17 and the Highway 91 Connector in Sunbury, and a new interchange at River Road connecting to Highway 17.
The expected completion date for the project package is 2023.