The Pioneer Park Stormwater Management Regeneration Project was aimed at addressing decades old stormwater quality and flooding issues within the Town of Richmond Hill. The project exemplifies the integration of civil engineering and landscape solutions to address complex, environmental, ecological and stormwater management issues while creating a new public amenity.
Pioneer Park was constructed in the early 1980’s as an on-line stormwater quality control pond. Over time, the function of this pond was compromised, resulting in acute flooding and water quality impairment issues downstream in the watershed. The regeneration project was borne of necessity but, under the guidance of the Town of Richmond Hill became a multi-objective project aimed at enhancing water quality, improving fish habitat, mitigating erosion, eliminating downstream flooding and enhancing the overall ecological integrity of the East Don River valley corridor. The implementation of the project was complex, involving both interim water diversion and the resolution of numerous issues associated with neighbouring property owners. The result of the work is a prominent public space that accommodates passive recreational activities and promotes environmental stewardship. The completed project is regarded as a prototype for retrofit regeneration projects.
Given the context of the site as a natural amenity adjacent a designated Environmental Significant Area (ESA), integration of the proposed works into the valleyland was a key consideration throughout the design and construction stages of the project. Micro-scale site-specific design solutions were generated to address the interface of the engineering work and specific trees within the ESA resulting in the ability to mitigate impact on the woodland and preserve significant trees that were originally anticipated to be injured in the course of implementation of the project. The regeneration project will provide direct watershed-wide benefits while serving as a prototype to guide the restoration of numerous outmoded stormwater management facilities throughout Ontario. The park affords recreational and interpretive opportunities for residents of the community and has become a prominent component of the Town’s open space system. the project has gained widespread recognition as an innovative solution to address the restoration of aging stormwater management infrastructure, an issue that all Ontario municipalities will be facing in the years and decades to come.