November 12, 2021

Olympic Village’s Habitat Island Wildlife Sanctuary: Why is it Going to the Dogs?

When Habitat Island was created as part of the Olympic Village development, it was not supposed to be accessible from the shore, except at the lowest tide, as one architect involved with the project said.

Built to offset a construction fill for the Olympic Village, the island has a naturalised shoreline  to support intertidal sea life and was planted with native plants, to increase local biodversity.

But as can be seen the sea measurements appear not to have been  correctly taken, and the island is basically accessible by crossing the stepping stones at any time. The island has been a special place to go to and look at nature.  There are several raptor poles there, and they have attracted much bird life including eagles and northern flicker woodpeckers.

Under the jurisdiction of the Park Board, Habitat Island was to be “an urban oasis that we would like to keep in its natural state.  The Park board states Please do not cycle, litter or bring your dog onto the island.”

It appears that the messaging of why dogs are not allowed on this island is not being understood.  On the posted signage for the island someone has tried to scratch out the “no dogs allowed” sign as well as the hefty fine that can be imposed. And there are plenty of canines and their humans using the beaches on Habitat Island.

 

When these photos were taken  there were four dogs on the island, using two of the beaches. The humans stayed on the island while the dogs retrieved sticks.

The whole point of the island was to function as a bird and wildlife sanctuary and it had attracted some surprising wildlife. Soil was layered to grow trees, and stones and logs were installed to provide a habitat for sea life and shorelife, including “insects, crabs, starfish, barnacles and other creatures”.

Dog owners may not be aware of the attempts to create a wildlife habitat on the island. There is a designated dog park steps away from Habitat Island at Hinge Park.

The Park Board has installed over two hundred trees and bushes on this island and the surrounding walk up to the island. Some of that area on shore  is now fenced off to provide bird and wildlife habitat without being disturbed by people and dogs.

You can view the YouTube video below produced by the Suzuki Foundation that discusses with Margot Long, Landscape Architect a bit about the work and original intent and purpose of Habitat Island.

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