METRO Vancouver announced on Monday that it has acquired two new park land properties near the Pitt River Valley, adding nearly 16 hectares to Minnekhada Regional Park and 56 hectares to the Codd Wetland Ecological Conservancy Area, at a cost of $2 million and $7.3 million, respectively.
Located on both sides of the Pitt River Valley, these two parcels protect ecologically-diverse wildlife habitats and present opportunities to develop future trails, viewpoints and other park amenities in some of Metro Vancouver’s fastest-growing sub-regions.
“With more people and considerable employment growth anticipated for Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Pitt Meadows in the coming decades, it is vital we set aside conservation lands so people can connect with nature in their communities,” said John McEwen, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Parks Committee. “A robust regional parks system is essential to providing a high quality of life for current and future generations.”
The 15.9-hectare parcel added to Minnekhada Regional Park is in the northeastern, upland portion of the park, filling a gap between the regional park and the Pitt Addington Marsh Wildlife Area. The new area adds a hillside of maturing Douglas fir and provides foraging as well as hibernation habitats for Western Toads, a species of special conservation concern.
Significant portions of the area overlook Minnekhada Marsh and present opportunities for the future development of trails and scenic viewpoints that would complement and expand Minnekhada Regional Park’s existing 10-kilometer trail network.
On the east side of the Pitt River Valley, Metro Vancouver has added 56.3 hectares to the Codd Wetland Ecological Conservancy. Acquired in 2004, the conservancy area protects a wetland home to a wide variety of plants, birds, fish, mammals and amphibians. Over 160 species of birds inhabit the wetland and it is one of only a few areas in the Lower Mainland where Sandhill Cranes have been observed nesting. The acquisition of additional lands around Codd Wetland will help Metro Vancouver realize its goal of creating a large and resilient park complex in the northeastern part of the region.
“I am pleased we are making great progress toward our vision of a vibrant, interconnected network of parks and greenways throughout Metro Vancouver,” said Sav Dhaliwal, Chair of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors. “As part of this vision, we will continue to actively pursue park land acquisition opportunities and develop plans for existing properties that are not yet open to the public.”
In the past 50 years, the Regional Parks system has grown from 3,835 hectares to an estimated 14,500 hectares of parkland, with 23 regional parks, five greenways, two ecological conservancy areas and two regional park reserves in communities from Bowen Island to Maple Ridge.
Metro Vancouver’s Regional Parks continue to grow in popularity, with approximately 12 million visits recorded every year. Visitor numbers are increasing at an average rate of 3.9% per year, twice as fast as the population, which is expected to grow by 1.2 million by 2050. In 2019, Metro Vancouver increased the regional parks land acquisition fund to ensure it can acquire land to provide access to nature for the growing population. The purchases of vast tracts of forested land also supports Metro Vancouver’s Climate Action Plan through the conservation of large amounts of stored carbon.