Dragonflies descend on flowering lily pads as swallows dart across the water hunting for insects. Fuzzy ducklings stay close to their watchful mothers as gaggles of Canada geese waddle around showing their young how to nibble the grass. Lush hydrangeas burst forth with blue and yellow blooms as slender purple irises flower along the shoreline.
The Minoru Lakes––the lovely landscaped garden area on the north side of Richmond’s city centre Minoru Park––has just reopened after a yearlong closure and a multi-million-dollar renovation. And while nature hasn’t wasted any time in returning to its home of more than 50 years, the locals have also been flocking back to their much-missed urban oasis.
With time to spare on a recent sunny afternoon, we visited the newly restored Minoru Lakes. We wanted to see what’s new and what it felt like to be back in one of the region’s most popular escape-from-it-all outdoor hangouts.
After five decades of constant use, the Minoru Lakes had deteriorated to the point where vital infrastructure including the pump, liner, banks and even water quality were failing. Draining the lakes, digging everything out and then replacing it all was a mammoth task. But it was also an opportunity to upgrade the walkways, seating and other features of the site.
Strolling the park area today is just as calming as before, with some welcome new improvements. The gently curving paths around the shorelines have been widened. And the two little islands that were always popular with birds have been fully restored; you can even step across some large stone blocks and walk around one of them.
We also love the new boardwalks and bridges that have been built across the water. Much more ornate than the previous paint-peeled old ones, their patterned red sides and chunky wooden construction are an attractive park addition that many visitors were snapping photos of during our visit.
Although they look the same size to us, the ponds themselves have been slightly reduced in size during the renovation. At the same time they’ve also been deepened. Reducing the surface area means less water loss due to evaporation, while deeper ponds mean the water can self-regulate its temperature and inviting new habitats can be created for critters.
But for most visitors, the park’s most striking water feature has always been the mini waterfall. A smaller new pond has been added at the top of this little cascade (lots of Canada geese were swimming in it on our visit). And the waterfall itself has been fully restored and enhanced. You can also walk up some steps behind it and enjoy panoramic views across the lakes.
One of the most beloved features of the old site was the lush foliage and flowerbeds, developed and cultivated over many years. Locals loved hanging out in the shaded leafy areas while gazing at the colourful flowers and shrubs.
Many of these well-established plants had to be removed during the renovation. But not everything had to be re-started from scratch. Dozens of the largest trees were retained and carefully protected during the project––including the beloved willow trees that drape their swooning branches over the shoreline.
Naturally, of course, it’s going to take a while for the new flora and slender saplings to grow and mature. But on our visit, gardeners were working hard to plant and irrigate the new flowerbeds. And we spotted some delightful blooms already opening, including those richly coloured purple irises.
Take a Seat
For many of us, though, heading to the Minoru Lakes has always been about slowing down and taking a restorative breather in nature.
And the renovation has lots of features designed to facilitate that for locals and visitors. There are new picnic tables plus sleek, red-trimmed new benches where you can sit back and drink in the unfolding visuals.
Even better are the park’s new oversized lounger seats. These highly inviting undulating wooden chairs have been placed along the shoreline, offering the chance to slide into full-on relaxation mode as you gaze across the mirror-calm water. On our visit, we shared a double-width lounger as birds and butterflies fluttered overhead.
Which brings us back to what we think is the main attraction of the new Minoru Lakes area. Located just a few steps from the busy hubbub of city centre Richmond, we felt our heart rates calm and everyday stresses lift as we immersed in this highly tranquil green space wonderland.
The health benefits of nature are well established, of course. But many of us don’t connect with the outside world as much as we should. As a tiny Anna’s hummingbird zipped past and a rosy-cheeked northern flicker woodpecker called from a high branch, we realized the value of visiting nature as much as possible––and the new Minoru Lakes makes that very easy.
If you go:
The Minoru Lakes area is a 10-minute walk from Canada Line’s Richmond-Brighouse Station. Plan your transit trip to the park via the TransLink website. New bike racks have also been installed during the renovation, so why not consider a cycling trip and perhaps bring a picnic?
Last Updated on July 6, 2023 by Tourism Richmond