A massive new regional park in Metro Vancouver, about 20 years in the making, is set to open this weekend to provide the region’s residents with another protected natural area and breathing space.
The 860-acre Surrey Bend Regional Park is located on the northeastern corner of Surrey’s Guildford neighbourhood along the edge of the Fraser River, just across from Barnston Island. It is framed by the Fraser River to the north, Parson’s Channel to the east, and a diagonal CN railway line to the west and south.
Surrey Bend boasts one of the Lower Mainland’s largest bogs and one of the Lower Fraser’s last remaining large, non-dyked areas, with most of the park sitting less than five metres above sea level and subject to flooding. Its floodplain forests, marshes, and thickets – all dependent on tidal flows and seasonal flooding – are ecologically significant.
The wetlands in the park are home to diverse wildlife species, including birds and fish. Streams in the park support salmon, which seek secluded areas during the winter months to escape the river’s strong currents. Beavers, muskrats, minks, and otters have also been seen in the area along the river.
A four kilometre network of multi-use trails allows visitors to access the park and enjoy the unique wetland habitat. Access into the park is off the very eastern end of 104 Avenue, on the southeastern corner of the park – where reservable picnic shelters and picnic areas, a nature discovery area, signage and interpretive exhibits, washroom facilities, and parking spaces have been recently constructed.
“This regional park offers a tremendous opportunity to protect a unique ecosystem, and allows residents to experience and understand the historic landscape of the Fraser River floodplain,” reads a statement released by the Regional District to Vancity Buzz.
“Through environmental education, nature study, and community stewardship, it is our hope that visitors will understand more clearly than ever the intrinsic value of the region’s natural environment and the vital need to protect it.”
Over $5.6 million has been spent to establish the regional park, with $2.8 million provided by the Regional District and the remaining balance by the City of Surrey, provincial government, and other organizations.
The area designated as Surrey Bend, Metro Vancouver’s 23rd regional park, was once slated for industrial use. The Regional District and the City of Surrey, the owners of the park, began acquiring the lands required for the park in 1995.
At 860 acres, the park is slightly smaller than the Vancouver Park Board’s Stanley Park and 40% of the size of Pacific Spirit Regional Park at UBC. The smallest regional park is the 69-acre Barnston Island Regional Park while the largest is the 9,143-acre Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. Compared to all of the other regional parks, Surrey Bend ranks as the seventh largest in the region.
The park officially opens this Saturday, April 16 with a ceremony attended by local officials and dignitaries.
“This is an exciting and momentous occasion as it’s been nearly a decade since Metro Vancouver opened a new regional park,” the statement continues.