Campbell Valley Regional Park was one of the first parks Metro Vancouver acquired in 1967.

Campbell Valley Regional Park was one of the first parks Metro Vancouver acquired in 1967.

Metro Vancouver celebrates 50 years of protecting parks amidst urbanization

A new regional parks passport was announced Wednesday, for families to track visits to parks across the Lower Mainland.

  • Mar. 15, 2017 3:00 p.m.

Ashley Wadhwani BLACK PRESS

It’s been 50 years since Metro Vancouver Regional District took on its first regional parks, today looking after 14,500 hectares of parks and greenways across the region.

To celebrate, Metro Vancouver introduced a new regional parks passport Wednesday, for families to track all the Metro Vancouver parks they visit during the next year.

“Our Regional Parks are a world away from the hustle and bustle of urban life allowing us all to reconnect with nature,” said Heather Deal, chair of Metro Vancouver’s regional parks committee. “We invite everyone to celebrate with us by discovering a new trail, learning about wildlife or attending one of our many outdoor events.”

Back in 1968 – when it was called the Vancouver Fraser Park District – the group’s first batch of acquired land included the Aldergrove Lake Regional Park and Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley, Tynehead Regional Park and Boundary Bay, totalling 750 acres of green space.

Burnaby Councillor George McLean, the board’s chair at the time, noted “this in my view is a substantial achievement for a new board,” according to its first annual report released that year.

The district later went on to acquiring 17 more parks – including the Surrey Bend last year – three park reserves, five greenways, and two ecological conservancy areas – Burns Bog in Delta and the Codd Wetland in Pitt Meadows.

Candace Ng, Metro Vancouver’s park programs and outreach coordinator, said today’s need to acquire and protect green spaces amidst the steady urbanization in the region was the same reason why planners created the board 50 years ago.

“The planners had the amazing foresight to start setting land aside for green park space,” she said.

Metro Vancouver’s board chair Greg Moore says the district’s focus is to preserve nature and offer “passive trails,” to the public.

“I hope that we can preserve more natural areas, as we add more people to this region,” he said, and “we’re going to look to do this in the most ecologically and environmentally friendly ways.”

Passports are available at community centres, libraries and regional park kiosks across Metro Vancouver, and in the app stores as MVPassport.