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Regional park addition expands nature preserve in Coquitlam
A hidden gem of marshland and forest on the Pitt River waterfront in Coquitlam has been purchased for $2.2 million and could one day be opened up to picnickers and hikers.
Last week, Metro Vancouver Parks announced the acquisition of eight hectares to extend the Widgeon Marsh Regional Park Reserve, which is now larger than Stanley Park and home to a variety of rare and endangered species.
"It's a beautiful area up there, it's going to be a magnificent addition to the Metro Vancouver parks system," said Elaine Golds, a director of the Burke Mountain Naturalists, whose group puts up nest boxes for birds in areas south of the reserve.
The valuable property is located in the Widgeon Valley in an area north of Minnekhada Regional Park. Among the species that make their home there are the green heron, western screech and short-eared owls, red-legged frog and the painted turtle and Golds said it's important to protect these areas given pressures on waterfront property throughout the region.
"It's a legacy for the future and one that future generations will appreciate for years to come," Golds said.
However, it could be some time before the public can get inside the reserve. A comprehensive management plan will have to be developed first and it will be five years before one will likely be started, said Metro Vancouver parks operation manager Ron Wood.
"Right now there are no amenities for the public," Wood said, and a gravel road into the area would need to be improved and maintained, requiring discussions with the city of Coquitlam.
Mayor Greg Moore, who was recently re-elected Metro Vancouver board chair, welcomed the acquisition as an opportunity to provide further recreational opportunities "where we can experience and learn from nature."
This is the second addition to the Widgeon Marsh Regional Park Reserve. Last December, Metro Vancouver announced the purchase of 9.6 hectares for the reserve in partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada. The land was owned by Bob Edward, who sold the area including freshwater tidal marshes, a gravel road, and uplands for $935,000, however, $400,000 of the sale was a gift for which he received a Federal Ecological Gift tax receipt.
At the time it was pointed out that the wetlands are extensively used by waterfall, with counts as high as 1,000 to 2,000 a day.
Eventually, it is hoped that the area could be used as a staging area for hiking, biking, picnicking and birdwatching, as well as for water access to scenic areas of Widgeon Slough and marsh.
According to Metro Vancouver, the $2,525,000 purchase price was based on an independent appraisal.