Sea Island (British Columbia)

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Sea Island (in red) within the rest of Richmond (light red) and Metro Vancouver (green)

Sea Island is located in the city of Richmond, British Columbia, directly across the river from Vancouver and fifteen kilometres from Vancouver's downtown core. The island is in the estuary of the Fraser River, giving it a unique ecological environment. Sea Island is the home to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and a large conservation project to offset the environmental impact the airport causes; including a wildlife preserve and public beaches. The population of the island, most of whom live in the neighbourhood of Burkeville, was 736 persons at the 2001 census. It is Statistics Canada's Census Tract 0150.00 of the Vancouver CMA.

Vancouver International Airport[edit]

The airport first opened for service on Sea Island in 1931, and began servicing commercial flights in 1937. The airport received relatively light traffic for the next fifty years until extensive growth in international traffic, primarily between the United States and Asia, necessitated expansion of service. With investments from the airlines, the Canadian government and a surcharge on tickets for improvement costs, the airport began a significant overhaul in the 1990s.

The airport is now the second largest in Canada, with over 16 million passengers passing through each year. It has grown to three passenger terminals and three main runways servicing over forty airlines.

Land transportation[edit]

Grant McConachie Way is the road leading to the main airport terminal, while Russ Baker Way connects Vancouver and the main part of Richmond via the Arthur Laing Bridge, No. 2 Road Bridge, Dinsmore Bridge, Moray Bridge and the Sea Island Bridge. Sea Island is also served by the Canada Line, part of the SkyTrain rapid transit network, which connects the airport to Downtown Vancouver and Downtown Richmond.

Airport vicinity[edit]

Since the construction of the airport, efforts have been made by the Canadian Wildlife Service to preserve the sensitive environment of the island. The land is subject to changes caused by both its natural estuary and human impact. With the expansion of the airport during the 1990s and through 2000, care for the environment has matched the airport's growth.[citation needed]

Around the airport, birds are the primary concern as an aviation hazard to the planes. The island is a hub in the Pacific Skyway migration pattern. Wildlife officers patrol the grounds to keep track of migration patterns of birds and to control their chances of interfering with an aircraft.

The British Columbia Institute of Technology has completed constructing of a new aviation-oriented location near Cessna Drive and Russ Baker Way.

There is a Canadian Coast Guard station near the southwest end of the island. Access to that area of the island is restricted.

A small historic community called Burkeville is situated on the island, located near Miller Road and Russ Baker Way.

Sea Island Conservation Area[edit]

The Sea Island Conservation Area (SICA) is located adjacent to Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and consists of approximately 140.1 hectares (1.4 square kilometers) of land on the north side of Sea Island dedicated for conservation of wildlife and habitat. SICA was transferred to Environment Canada as a compensation package funded by Transport Canada to replace wildlife habitat lost as a result of runway expansion at Vancouver International Airport (YVR). The main goal for management of SICA is to maintain existing populations of wildlife that do not compromise aviation safety.

The co-sponsored Management Plan allows for a multi-recreational use of the designated areas for pedestrians, cyclists, horseback riding, bird watching, and dog walking but all dogs must be leashed within the area.

Habitats on SICA consist of woodland, wetland sloughs, and old agricultural field habitat which support a diversity of birds, land mammals, and terrestrial plants. SICA habitat management discourages populations of flocking birds that may pose hazards to aviation safety, as well as discourages populations of beavers that can cause prevalent, severe and costly damage to habitat.

Sturgeon Bank Wildlife Management Area[edit]

Over 50 square kilometres in area, Sturgeon Bank is a marine preserve located off the west side of the island and is made up of intertidal and subtidal waters. Boating is prohibited in the area.


Sea Island boasts two public beaches, McDonald Beach Park and Iona Beach Regional Park.

McDonald Beach is operated by the city of Richmond. It is a recreational facility, with picnic areas and boat docking available. The park is located on the northern end of the island, making it accessible from up-river as well as the west bank of the mainland.

Iona Beach is operated by the Greater Vancouver Regional District, and serves a more natural rather than recreational purpose. It features information on the flora and fauna, as well as a walking trail that culminates in a 4 kilometer jetty out into the Sturgeon Bank. (See also: Iona Island, British Columbia.)

Proposed Designer Outlet Centre[edit]

Sea Island is the location of a proposed luxury designer outlet mall. The project is a joint venture between Vancouver International Airport and the McArthurGlen Group. Phase One of the project is scheduled to open in late 2014 with 78 stores.[1]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 49°12′N 123°10′W / 49.200°N 123.167°W / 49.200; -123.167