When the new community Cornell was being planned in Markham, I was still with the city as Manager of Parks Planning and Urban Design. The original plan called for 18 stormwater management ponds sprinkled across the hundreds of acres of development land. I suggested (more like insisted), that the City would better benefit from having one major pond at the very south end of the lands next to the 407 which at the time was under construction. I argued that it would be easier to maintain, it would offer a chance at creating a viable recreational amenity and it would buffer the new community from the 407. It would also benefit from being physically connected to a large sugar bush that was to be protected and expanded.
Surprisingly, I won the argument.
Everything that you see in this photo was a Markham corn field 12 years ago. Everything.
I am pretty certain it is the largest storm water management pond in the country. (though I’m quite prepared to be corrected on this point).
I designed it in 2003 with Ecotech Engineering on behalf of H+R Developments, and the plan called for the construction of a series of interconnected pathways, overlooks and connecting municipal parks as well as the planting of over 2100 trees and 9000 shrubs, shoreline and emergent plants.
Most have thrived and new species such as Robinia pseudoacacia and numerous shoreline species have taken root. It is now habitat for fish, wood ducks, mallards, geese, cormorants (though I’m not happy about that) egrets and swans not to mention a plethora of mice, rabbits, fox, coy wolf and grouse.
Who says urban development always negatively impacts the environment? This project is a case study in the principle of environmental ‘net gains’.