British Columbia·Photos

Mass planting at Vancouver park aims to create bee oasis

"The pollinators will be great for our ecosystem," says park board chair Sarah Kirby-Yung of the new park at West 5th Avenue and Pine Street.

Community puts 1,500 flowering plants in ground at West 5th Avenue and Pine Street

Hundreds of Vancouver residents helped plant 1,500 plants at a new park at West 5th Avenue and Pine Street on Saturday Nov. 19, 2016. (Errol Richardson/CBC)

Come spring, a corner lot on Vancouver's West Side should be the newest haven for bees and butterflies in the city.

On Saturday, hundreds of residents helped the park board put 1,500 flowering plants like mints, sages, asters and bee balms in the ground to create a "pollinator park" at West 5th Avenue and Pine Street.

'Cities are a little bit different because we have such range of gardens and parks,' says Vancouver Park Board biologist Nick Page. 'They can be a little oasis for native bees in an area that would otherwise not support them.' (Errol Richardson/CBC)

The $215,000 park is the first phase of a long-term plan to develop a space that spans the entire block between 5th and 6th Avenues and Pine and Fir Streets.

This pop-up park is part of bigger plans to create green space on Vancouver's West Side. (Errol Richardson/CBC)

The Vancouver Park Board's chair, Sarah Kirby-Yung says the park also features benches and tables made out of a fallen fir tree from Stanley Park.

'[It's a] great re-use of materials and a little bit of a history there. So this park has a connection to one of our favourite parks,' says Vancouver Park Board chair Sarah Kirby-Yeung about the use of a fallen fir tree from Stanley Park to make features at this park. (Errol Richardson/CBC)

The new 0.3-acre — or 1,200 sq.m — park supports the park board's biodiversity strategy and demonstrates sustainability practices, including a rainwater cistern for wet season rainwater capture and dry-season watering.

Vancouver Park Board biologist Nick Page says he hopes people who helped with the planting take some of the sustainable concepts home to their own gardens, like seeding wild areas with wild flowers instead of grass.

"Anytime we do a new park or redevelop a park we look at where we can create things like all sorts of sustainability features, [and] including pollinator habitat," he said.

Gardens rich in flowers such as mints, sages, asters and bee balms are an excellent way of supporting pollinators in small urban parks, say experts. (Errol Richardson/CBC)

Bee researchers like Mark Winston say cities are havens for bees, because of the lack of pesticides and the diversity of plants. Bee populations around the world are in rapid decline due to chemicals and land use changes that restrict wild flowers and diseases.

With the planting done, the pop-up park on West 5th Avenue and Pine Street will be open to the public by the weekend of Nov. 26, 2016. (Errol Richardson/CBC)