A River Runs Through It

A concrete canal converted into a natural river, which now runs through a park.

When I arrived at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park River Plains (formerly Bishan Park 2) on a Sunday evening, we were amazed by the lovely scene of a river, set against the background of the towering HDB flats in the setting sun. The canal turned river is now the focal point of the revamped park.

All around the river was a hive of activity - joggers, brisk-walkers, cyclists, dog-walkers, families spending time with their children, people trying to launch their kites into the air from the open green space in the middle of the park. Standing on the newly-built bridge that connects one side of the riverbank to the other, we soaked in the relaxing atmosphere of the park. There were many other park users who also found the same silent satisfaction from standing along the bridge to admire the beautiful sight.

The introduction of the river to the park has created favourable conditions for habitats to thrive, and we could see tiny fish swimming down the river as well as different types of flora growing along the riverbanks. I tried to look out for the purple herons, which have been said to make regular appearances at the river, but was disappointed that they did not make an appearance - I had hoped to point out the majestic birds to my children.

A playground for every child

The rejuvenated park features three new playgrounds to cater to children of different age groups. The Bubble Playground in River Plains was suitable for my two pre-school children, who tottered from rubber mound to rubber mound in the sand-filled playground. In Pond Gardens, there is an Adventure Playground that features climbing ropes and structures for older children and teenagers who fancy a challenge, and a Water Playground which allows kids to interact with water. Besides providing park users with more food and beverage - Cornerstone has opened up next to Canopy - the park also features more open spaces where people can hold their activities.

There is a Riverside Promenade that has been constructed along the riverbank in River Plains, which would be an ideal setting for outdoor performances and functions. The open green spaces provide a conducive environment for various activities. A number of people were in the field trying to launch their kites and I was surprised when my boy pointed out a penguin kite soaring high up in the sky - I had not realised it would be possible to fly a kite to such a height in the park!

A piece of art in the park

Park visitors who wish to get a good vantage point of River Plains should head towards Recycle Hill. The hill was made by stacking concrete slabs from what used to be the canal. Perched at the top of the hill is an interesting art sculpture by local sculptor Kelvin Lim Fun Kit, An Enclosure for a Swing, contributed by City Development Limited. Placing an art piece within a park is a wonderful way of allowing the public to appreciate art without having to go to an art gallery or art exhibition. Eventually, we had to leave as it was close to dinner-time.

I was a little sad to be unable to linger longer in the park. As we made our way home, I made a mental note to visit again, but perhaps in the morning. I also resolved to bring my children nearer the river, so that they can get up close with the water and observe the wildlife thriving within. On this trip, my children were not game enough to venture down towards the riverbank. Hopefully, the purple herons will make an appearance the next time!

By Charmaine Lim

The Redevelopment of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park The redeveloped 62-hectare Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park was officially opened on 17 March 2012. The same day saw the name of the park changed from just "Bishan Park" to its current double-barrelled name, the better to reflect the shared boundaries of the park and sense of neighbourliness.
A joint collaboration between the National Parks Board and national water agency PUB under the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) Programme, work on the park and the canal that ran along its edges commenced two years ago.
The canal has been converted into a natural river using bio-engineering techniques to stablise the slopes to prevent soil erosion, and to form natural habitats that enrich the biodiversity of the park. Divided by Marymount Road into two plots, Pond Gardens (formerly Bishan Park 1) and River Plains (formerly Bishan Park 2), the park caters to park visitors of all ages.

The river that courses through Bishan is filled with exciting flora and fauna.

The Recycle Hill is made up of concrete slabs from the original canal, topped with a sculpture titled ‘An Enclosure for a Swing’.

Families were out at the park flying kites in the evening breeze.

The bridge is a popular spot for people to gather – to gaze at the wildlife below along the banks of the river or just to watch the world go by.

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