It’s only been a few weeks but Sackville’s newly-completed stormwater retention pond is already starting to reap some benefits.
As expected, the pond off Lorne Street is beginning to attract plenty of attention, and not just from the wildlife that are settling in and making themselves at home.
“We’ve seen lots of cyclists, pedestrians and families visiting the area and it already seems to be a popular spot for walking dogs,” said Jamie Burke, the town’s senior manager of corporate projects.
Burke said town staff are pleased with how the retention pond turned out and “almost immediately, we’ve noticed a variety of species of birds that have moved into the area.”
“And we can already see the natural vegetation coming up so it’s only going to get better,” he added.
Burke explained that during the design stages of the project, staff worked with the consultants and contractors to make the extra effort to ensure the pond would be much more than just an engineering asset.
“And I think the use and attention it’s getting shows the importance and value of incorporating a recreational component.”
Several benches were installed, top soil was added in specific areas, hydro seeding was carried out, and five new red maple trees were planted along St. James Street with more to come in the fall. Burke said there will also be items like garbage receptacles and dog waste bag dispensers installed in the weeks ahead. Interpretive panels will also be added in several locations around the pond that will explain why it was constructed, how it works, and the benefits it provides.
“So over time this will become a really significant community asset.”
Coun. Bill Evans said he has already been hearing plenty of positive feedback from local residents about the completed pond.
“What a huge success it has been,” he said. “There’s the functionality of the flood control part but with a little bit of extra expenditure, we have another lovely park right in the downtown area.”
He said every time he has been walking through the area himself, there have also been others making use of the naturalized park. He has noticed plenty of waterfowl beginning to settle in the pond and expects more will come as the marsh grass and other native plant species start to grow in.
“I can hardly wait. To me, it’s another jewel like the Waterfowl Park,” said Evans during council’s July meeting. “It’s a wonderful addition to the town so kudos to staff. It’s been a long, hard slug and I’m grateful.”
Fellow councillor Andrew Black agreed, saying it’s been fantastic to see how well utilized the pond is.
“It just looks wonderful.”
And the retention pond itself is said to be working as it’s intended, as was evidenced during a significant rainfall event in June that saw between 60 and 70 mm of rain when the Lorne Street area was kept dry.
The pond has been a work in progress since January, although there were a number of delays prior to that during the design process as the consultant reworked the plans after the tenders for the first design came in significantly over budget.
This new naturalized stormwater retention pond provides 40,000 cubic metres of storage. However, the town is still working toward a long-term plan that would add an additional 60,000 cubic metres through another retention pond in behind the Sackville Community Garden and one at the Pickard Quarry. This work will only be possible with further provincial and federal funding.