Iona Beach Park - Richmond
Activity:All our kids ever knew about the sewer was that's where the Mutant Ninja Turtles lived. So when I suggested going for a bike ride on top of a gigantic sewer pipe, my son was ecstatic. Jen wasn't thrilled with the idea because she didn't want to get caught in the middle of a big battle, and my wife was worried about a bad smell.
The Iona jetty on Sea Island in Richmond was a pleasant surprise for all of us--except Nathan, who was hoping to see at least one Ninja. The jetty stretches out for 2.5 miles and it's as flat as a pancake. Anyone with a little one still riding a tricycle knows what a blessing this is.
You can cap the ride off with a tour of The Iona Sewage Plant. Your children can see how the poo and pee they flush down the toilet gets cleaned and sent out into the ocean. By the way this was an eye-opener for my wife and I as well. We were both relieved to find out how hygienic sewage treatment is. I advise you to phone ahead and find out when the tours happen, because recently they were closed for renovations. The number to call is (604) 261-6321.
Age group:All ages.
:If you're in the mood for an out-of-the-ordinary outing, and you want to get some exercise (this is always an important consideration for my wife) then look no further. The jetty is perfect for kids. Mary and I can take turns hanging back with Jen on her tricycle, while the other bombs ahead with Nathe who wants more speed.
I almost forgot to mention, the Iona jetty is next to The Vancouver International Airport so it's a great spot to see planes landing and taking off. Nathan likes to bug Jen by asking her if she knows where all the planes come from, because he knows how to read and she doesn't. Although Jen surprised him a few times because she remembered Air Canada had a red maple leaf on it.
Iona Beach is also an excellent place for birding.
:Parking is free and there's no smell, so I can't think of anything bad to say. My wife, however remarked that Iona Beach Park wouldn't be her first choice for a picnic. She's probably right.
Details:Located on Iona Island in Richmond. Let me give you some advice, before you get in your car, look at a map. Both times we went I took a wrong turn-off--and I've lived in Vancouver all my life. In a nutshell, you take the same route as you would for The Vancouver International Airport: Cross the Arthur Laing Bridge; take the first exit (Richmond/South Airport Terminal); turn left at the first light; then another left again almost immediately, and follow the signs to Iona Beach (about 7.5 km). For more information call (604) 432-6350.
Educational highlights:Most people don't lose sleep thinking about where their sewage goes. Out of sight, out of mind. A visit to a sewage treatment plant can raise your family's awareness of what happens after the toilet and the sink. It may even make them more conscientious about using water and other natural resources.
Fun for the adult?:We've been to the jetty a couple of times. The first time we took in the tour, which by itself made the trip worthwhile. The second was a beautiful Autumn day and we just enjoyed riding our bikes into the middle of the ocean. Each of us could ride as much or as little as we wanted to. The planes are always an interesting sidelight.