Maplewood Flats


How it all Began!

WBT Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia (WBT) was founded in 1993 by Dr. Richard C. Beard and Patricia M. Banning-Lover - but many years before this could occur a Great Campaign was fought to save the area from development. Plans for a marina and shopping area – a sort of mini Lonsdale Quay – could have easily come about but for the heroic efforts by many who recognized significant, existing wildlife values.

As Wild Bird Trust always points out – we take absolutely no credit or accolades for the amazing success of the Great Campaign – we simply were not here – we did not exist!

The successful conclusion of the Great Campaign saw campaigner Stephen Partington decorated for his passionate contributions and the land gifted for conservation by PortMetroVancouver and the District of North Vancouver.

Environment Canada now chose the site to build their Pacific Environmental Science Centre (PESC). 

Environment Canada entered into a 48 yr. Memorandum of Understanding with PortMetroVancouver (then Vancouver Port Authority) which named them as Site Managers.  As is customary during the period of an Environment Canada presence the land would now be regarded as federal land. The Environment Canada MOU terminates on March 31st 2041.

The new Environment Canada building, its parking and landscaped areas would take up only a small portion on the north east corner, the rest of the site would become land managed and operated for conservation and public enjoyment.

Now the hunt began for a society to take on this “concept of operation” under a formal license.  The task was offered to several organizations and societies but none were interested in facing the enormous challenges – let alone the expense!

The land had been saved but no plan existed for “next steps”.  Although it was not their responsibility to choose a group to manage and operate the site, the Maplewood Committee was now very worried.  As has been said many times by Kevin Bell (one of the principal campaigners and Maplewood Committee Member) “it’s a good thing you and Richard came along – because we were all so tired!”

In February 1992, on a little stone terrace in the picturesque town of Taxco, Mexico a decision was made by Richard and Patricia to found an organization specifically with the newly-saved area in mind.  This decision would take time, expense and much thought to morph into the “finished product” – but with confidence and determination the idea became a reality when WBT Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia became incorporated on November 4th 1993.  The Trust regards this date as Wild Bird Trust’s “birthday”. 

Pre and post the decision to form a brand new society was discussed in meetings with the Maplewood Committee.  Their very positive reaction encouraged Richard and Patricia to feel that the projection could be a success.  But there were a few stumbling blocks – principally, no seed money existed! 

Fundraising began at the very basic level of picking cans and bottles out of the ditches while  Richard and Patricia walked their German Shepherd Daisy – somehow the recycling cents turned into dollars!

In order to give the emerging Society the focus it would require, Richard a dental surgeon, gave up practicing for five years becoming the first WBT President and fundraiser. 

In a terrific leap of faith, since no formal documents with the officials existed, volunteer work began on site in earnest as early as 1992.  The first order of business when the Trust arrived was a major clean up.

In the pre-boomed era the intertidal areas were littered with logs and debris – twice a day the tide would smash these heavy items up and down damaging existing and emerging vegetation. Once clean up was complete these areas were boomed to prevent it happening again and the surfaces began to heal and recover. 

What was not apparent at that time was the attractive pastoral stretches of waving green vegetation on the DNV portions of the property contained many invasive plants – such as Spartina (S.patens).

Japanese Knotweed was originally present on the DNV sections and has spread dramatically over two decades.  It has escaped from shady areas, crept under the Port Fence – and encouraged by sunlight approaches the north east corner of PESC. 

Since the Trust is the Operator of the site decisions on how and when to address these invasive species, which may require mechanical removal and/or specialized treatment, will be made by Landowners PortMetroVancouver and the District of North Vancouver together with the official Manager of the site Environment Canada.   It is their task, not WBT’s to evaluate best management practices, treatment timing and cost sharing.

Historically, the site had also been used as a “dumping ground” for unwanted household items – if you were renovating your kitchen or bathroom guess where you would discard your old appliances?

Amazingly, clean up was completed, trails were built on the east side and WBT’s Grand Opening occurred on Saturday, September 16th 2015 under hot and sunny skies.  The event was held in tents.  The little piece of land near the Meet and Greet next to the Barge Channel hosted one large tent with a raised platform, podium and microphones. Hundreds of chairs were set up in the car-park with another large tent which housed the cake and beverages. 

Then WBT-President Richard Beard introduced special guests Robert Bateman (our patron) and Rick Hansen and dignitaries from Environment Canada, PortMetroVancouver, District of North Vancouver.   Some very warm words of encouragement were expressed. 

Co-Founder/Special Events Coordinator Patricia M. Banning-Lover asked Kevin Bell and Ray Eagle to represent the Maplewood Committee/Great Campaign Era by taking part in the green ribbon cutting ceremony – Ray and Kevin offered the scissors with their dangling strands of gold and green ribbons.

Acknowledgment for the site and the Co-founders Dr. Richard C. Beard and Patricia M. Banning-Lover came in the form of a federal “Certificate of Environmental Stewardship” (Local Hero) which was awarded by Environment Canada to them individually at the Dedication of the Freshwater Marsh on May 10th 1997.

The Conservation Area at Maplewood Flats is a formerly degraded industrial site transformed by the Trust into the North Shore’s first wildlife sanctuary.  To the east lies the largest remaining fragment of a mudflat system which once stretched as far as First Narrows Bridge (Lions Gate Bridge).  To the west is the premier example of salt marsh in Burrard Inlet.

Throughout its industrial era the area wore many faces and looked very different.  Most of the areas which you know so well were once great stretches of mudflat! 

A transformation of a very unusual kind took place when the West End of Vancouver was developed – reflecting the thinking of the day which dismissed these intertidal areas as having little or no value – the decision makers arranged for all the excavation material to be transported to the site and dumped on the mudflats! 

This explains why we have remnants of garden plants and even an Apricot Tree – it all came in with the fill! 

Over time we have eradicated patches of day lilies and lamium but still struggle with the ongoing effects of old-fashioned favourites like English Holly, English Ivy and periwinkle which have now fallen out of favour because of their invasive characteristics..  

It is hard to imagine that Environment Canada’s Pacific Environmental Science Centre, the Parking Lot, our little Meet and Greet Office, the Compound with its major bird feeding station and the nursery, the trails, the forested areas, Corrigan Nature House etc., all once looked very different.

History also recalls an Automotive Body Shop on the Concrete Pad, log booms tied to pilings and operations by Deeks McBride Sand and Gravel Company. 

The Ken Lum replicas of Squatters’ Shacks which you see near the Meet and Greet are an artistic salute to those who lived on the mudflats – look for the explanatory text at the Viewing Site near the WBT’s Meet and Greet Office.

So as you can see the site has worn many faces – all had impact – all left their mark.

Conservation Area at Maplewood Flats


The Conservation Area at Maplewood Flats in North Vancouver is the last undeveloped waterfront wetland on the north shore of Burrard Inlet. 

Over 3 km. of wheelchair-accessible trails, with occasional resting benches and a viewing platform, constructed to permit the public to observe and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings.

Visitors are reminded that The Conservation Area is not a park.  We encourage everyone to enjoy the abundant wildlife and vegetation while leaving it undisturbed - stay on the trails. WARNING: Many sections on the tidal flats contain sinkholes that can pose a threat to people and animals entering the area. This area is strictly off-limits.

Pets are welcome only in the area east of the bridge. The no pets rule west of the bridge is strictly enforced in order to protect resting and ground nesting birds. 

Cyclists are welcome to visit, but  please secure your bicycle at the stand provided at our Meet and Greet office at the entrance.

Limited parking is available on the right side as you enter.  Please do not park in the Environment Canada staff parking lot on the left side (in front of the buildings) during week days before 5.30 p.m., or in the fire lanes at any time.  You may use the staff parking lot after 5.30 p.m. and at weekends.