The expansive three-acre property known as Laurel Point Park will soon bear a new new name in honour of a previous City of Victoria mayor.
As of Oct. 26 the area will be renamed the Peter Pollen Waterfront Park, after the late Peter Pollen who was mayor between 1971-1975 and 1981-1985.
During his tenure, Pollen and his council established Laurel Point Park in 1975 after a paint company closed and moved from the location. Pollen also advocated for the city’s beauty and livability, and worked to beautify the Inner Harbour and remove billboards from the City of Victoria.
“A lot of the way Victoria looks and feels today can be attributed to the vision and leadership of Peter Pollen,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “I had an opportunity to meet Peter shortly after being elected and was moved by the passion and dedication he still had for public access to the harbour and the importance of public spaces. It’s fitting that we name this waterfront park in his honour.”
After Pollen passed away in 2017, Helps thought it would be a good way to commemorate him, especially after the park saw recent changes.
In October 2018 the federal Ministry of Transportation announced a $17 million investment into remediation of the site, which was heavily soiled with contaminants and metals from the paint factory.
Since then over 70,000 metric tonnes of contaminated soil were removed and processed off-site, while new soil was back filled into the area. In July 2019, remediation was completed, and the federal government promised to monitor the site for a year before gifting the property officially to the City of Victoria.
The City also plans on redesigning the park and adding new features to it, after initiating public consultation later this year. Construction on the site is anticipated to begin in 2020.
One of the key features to the park, Helps said, will be to include learning aspects about the site’s history with the Lekwungen-speaking people, who traditionally used the land. Presently, the Songhees First Nation is also choosing the name it would like to use for the site, which will also be posted on the new signage when it is renamed.
Presently, part of the park is closed due to construction going on on the seawall and lower pathway. These enhancements are scheduled for completion in the next few months.
The Pollen family will be present at the dedication ceremony, which falls on Peter Pollen’s birthday.
“My husband Peter made Victoria his home for over 50 years,” said MaryAnn Pollen. “He referred to the Inner Harbour as the jewel of Victoria and believed strongly in public access to this beautiful waterfront. Our family is deeply honoured by this dedication in his memory.”