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Sea Island is located in the city of Richmond, British Columbiamarker, directly across the river from Vancouvermarker 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 Airportmarker (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, many of whom live in the village of Burkeville, was 736 persons as of the 2001 census. It is Statistics Canada's Census Tract 0150.00 of the Vancouver CMA.

Vancouver International Airport

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 Statesmarker 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 Canadamarker, 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

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 Bridgemarker, No.marker 2 Road Bridgemarker, Dinsmore Bridgemarker, Moray Bridgemarker and the Sea Island Bridgemarker. 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

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.

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 Technologymarker 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

The conservation area makes up 1.4 square kilometres in the north end of Sea Island. The preserve is out of the flight routes for the airport, so the goal of the wildlife service is to shift animal populations to the area. It is not open to the public, and is patrolled by the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Sturgeon Bank Wildlife Management Area

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.

Beaches

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

McDonald Beach is operated by the city of Richmondmarker. 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 Districtmarker, 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 1.5 kilometer jetty out into the Sturgeon Bank. (See also: Iona Island, British Columbia.)

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