Metro Vancouver, citing unprecedented growth in park use during 2020, has added 56 hectares to the Codd Wetland Ecological Conservancy Area in Pitt Meadows.
Located east of Pitt River in the Pitt Polder region, the land will protect ecologically diverse wildlife habitat and provide opportunities to develop future trails and viewpoints, said a press release from Pitt Meadows city hall Monday morning.
“Pitt Meadows is known as the Natural Place for a reason,” said Mayor Bill Dingwall.
“Parks are the second-largest land use in Pitt Meadows at 27 per cent. The addition of these park lands is an important natural asset and another positive step that reaffirms our commitment to mitigate the impacts of climate change and to protect our natural areas to ensure current and future generations can continue to connect with nature in our community,” he said.
Metro spent $7.4 million on the new land acquisition, and held a press conference Monday morning near the north end of 224th Street on the Bordertown Bridge, which is near the long-running Bordertown television set. The newly acquired property was behind the speakers at the podium.
Sav Dhaliwal, chair of the Metro Vancouver board of directors, said record visitation to Metro’s regional parks in 2020 underscored the need for such acquisitions.
During the past several years, regional parks attracted 11 to 12 million visits annually, with an average increase of four per cent per year, which is more than twice the rate of local population growth. Visitation records in 2020 are already well above with 14 million visits recorded already this year.
“The experience these past months has made it clear – people want to spend time outdoors,” said Dhaliwal.
John McEwen, chair of the Metro Vancouver regional parks committee, said the area in northeastern Pitt Meadows has the potential to one day become part of “a Stanley Park for the eastern region.”
“Our vision for the greater Codd area is to create a vast and stunning park complex in the rapidly-growing northeastern part of the region by expanding and connecting three separate existing protected areas: Codd Wetland Ecological Conservancy Area, Blaney Bog Regional Park Reserve, and the North Alouette Regional Greenway,” added McEwen.
“Thanks to our collaborations with the cities of Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, we are making progress on bringing together these three areas that have been fragmented by historical land use changes.”
The existing Codd Wetland Ecological Conservancy Area was acquired in 2004 and consists of 104.5 hectares that includes the Blaney Creek floodplain, the wetlands, and the tributary streams east of Codd Island.
It is one of the last remaining floodplain wetlands within the Alouette River watershed that is not diked and is home to more than 200 species of wildlife including birds, mammals, and amphibians.
In recognition of its significant ecological value, the Codd Wetlands are currently managed as an Ecological Conservation Area and are not open to the public.
That will change as Metro plans how to balance conservation with public access, in a planning process that could take two year, said McEwen.