New Brighton Park – One Year On

New Brighton Park – One Year On

Report and Photos by Nigel Peck

Thank you for your interest in the New Brighton project. 

Three things have driven this endeavour. First is the appreciation of a wide range of people of every culture and age for a lovely little park in Vancouver’s northeast corner. Second is that all the invasive removal and native planting has been done by people who care enough to volunteer for a range of tasks, most multiple times. Finally, it has been word of mouth by everyone sharing that enthusiasm that has fueled this fabulous effort. 

If this resonates with you, please consider volunteering or sharing the project with those you think might be interested. Your help will move this effort forward. To volunteer or for more information, please email:

2022 Project Beginnings

Last year, in January, Nature Vancouver (NV) became involved in an exciting new conservation project at New Brighton Park in Vancouver’s northeast corner near the Iron Workers’ Second Narrows Bridge. Now that we’ve just crossed the one year threshold, it’s a good time to consider what we’ve accomplished and what we hope to achieve in the second year.

For those not familiar with New Brighton Park, landfill dug from the Shoreline Habitat Restoration Project on the east side of the park was deposited in 2016 and 2017 in the area just to the west side of the park to create a hillock. Sadly, native coastal shrubs planted by the Park Board did not survive the initial years, leaving the area to be populated by hundreds of invasive Scotch broom shrubs and large clumps of Himalayan blackberry.

Nature Vancouver approached the Vancouver Parks Board in February of 2021 to ask if we could assist in any Vancouver Park related restoration projects and then in December of that year agreed to become a part of the restoration project of the hillock.

Initially, our contribution was expected only to be a small part of the project.  The enthusiasm and effectiveness of NV volunteers however rewrote the plan, and we ended up completing all the removal of the invasive broom and blackberry and the planting of native species. The project began on January 24th with three NV volunteers pulling out (with the help of an ‘Extractigator’) the first of hundreds of Scotch broom plants from the hillock. Himalayan Blackberry was the next target with major infestations along the Park/Port fence being removed.

Nature Vancouver’s status as an independent society was particularly beneficial when it was realized that all the invasive species in the park could be cleared, but the area would be immediately reseeded by the same invasive species which were densely growing immediately next to the park on a five-metre wide strip of Port of Vancouver property.

Recognizing this problem, we contacted the Port and were able to meet with the Manager of Infrastructure Habitat Development in February of 2022 at the site to survey the amount of invasive broom and blackberry. It was so thick it was almost impossible to push through. A special permit was granted to allow Nature Vancouver volunteers to enter Port property to continue the removal efforts ‘Port side’ as well. 

By March, nine separate work parties had removed essentially all of the broom in the park and most of the broom on the Port property, as well as much of the major blackberry infestations on the hillock of the park. Two weeks later, volunteers removed the final broom and blackberry infestations which remained on the Port vegetated strip.

The successful broom and blackberry removal now allowed us to begin the next phase of planting native pollinators. Planting began on March 26th and over the course of the next three weeks, we planted 40 Nootka, prickly wild and wood’s roses and Indian plum shrubs, as well as about 800 native Woolly Sunflower, Pearly Everlasting, Nodding Onion and Douglas Aster perennials. Planting was completed by April 9th.

Additional invasive pull work parties took place in May led by Alix Noble and Greg Leach to remove bull thistle from the ‘restoration hillock’. With the initial goals achieved, invasive removal was scaled back over the summer and early fall. Smaller scale work parties in July tried to dig out the thistle, but by then it had become almost impossible due to the dry ‘rock hard’ soil. A temporary solution was to cut the thistle down to prevent seeding and leave digging out the roots until winter rain softens the soil. 

Looking back at the spring planting, the roses and other shrubs seemed to have survived which will be confirmed in the next few weeks. Most of the pollinator perennials planted seem to have succumbed to the heat, the dryness and perhaps most challenging, the two-foot-high grasses blanketing the hill.

At the end of November there were several thistle and blackberry pull work parties followed by three late fall work parties focussing on planting of 30 native roses, thimbleberry, Indian plum and red flowering currant. Additionally, 270 Canadian and European golden rod, Douglas aster and Large Leafed Lupin perennials were planted along the eastern slope of the hillock. We took extra care in the November plantings to dig deeper holes, break the soil up below the hole and mulch with shredded leaves under, around and on top each transplant to enhance their moisture retention capacity.

One other success on a different note has been the installation of 11 Tree Swallow and Chickadee bird nest boxes in the park, 3 on the hillock and 8 around the shoreline habitat restoration area on the east side of the park. This is exciting both for bird nesting enhancement and as a way to engage youth from local schools to help with the annual cleaning and evaluation of the bird box usage.

Goals For 2023

Himalayan Blackberry Removal

It is now a new year and we are in a flurry of further restoration activities. We have focussed on the removal of large Himalayan Blackberry clumps along the shoreline stretches of both the Park and Port property. We need to accomplish this before nesting begins so removal activities have been limited to the cutting of standing canes to a 20-centimetre height. This way there will be no chance of disturbing nesting birds when we return in March to dig out the roots.

To preserve nesting habitat in the area, we will leave a large shoreline clump of blackberry at the west side of the Port of Vancouver tractor-trailer staging parking lot.  Better nesting habitat on the park west side is provided by native rose clumps along the shoreline to the east of the hillock and off leash area. Additionally on the east side of New Brighton Park, there are about 4000 coastal native roses and shrubs planted around the tidal marsh channels. 

Other Goals For 2023

  • after the blackberry along the shoreline has been removed, a priority will be the planting of native coastal roses and shrubs along the shoreline in those areas
  • the removal of a half dozen clumps of highly invasive and detrimental Reed Canary Grass from the restoration hillock followed by replacement with pollinator friendly perennials
  • the ongoing removal of new Himalayan Blackberry and Scotch Broom shoots sprouting up everywhere in areas which were cleared of blackberry and broom last year
  • the removal of Bull Thistle and Tansy from the entire hillock
  • if needed, the hand watering of planted perennials to increase their chances of ‘taking’ through the VPB loan of a 600-litre water container combined with volunteer ‘bucket watering’
  • citizen science observations of what plants, insects and birds flourish and what do not
  • the fall cleaning and evaluation of our first year of Tree Swallow and Chickadee bird nest boxes, hopefully with the participation of local school groups
  • the construction and installation of a Purple Martin nest box complex on the New Brighton jetty
  • who knows what else?

In conclusion, the New Brighton restoration project has had a fantastic start propelled by 82 volunteers of all ages and backgrounds who have contributed a combined total of 245 work days. Some of the work has been physically demanding but short-term aches and pains are always dwarfed by the satisfaction of contributing to a more diverse, healthy park.

Do consider either joining us in this work or passing on news of this worthwhile effort. You can do both as well. To volunteer or for more information, please email:

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