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Letter: Coquitlam needs a nature centre in Mundy Park

What better way to promote a healthy future for everyone than by completing a Coquitlam Nature Centre at Mundy forest? writes former Coquitlam resident Judy Donaghey.
Mundy Park in Coquitlam.

The Editor,

Re: "On Our Radar: This Coquitlam forum is highlighting urban trees – and their benefits," and "B.C. injects $37M into the Tri-Cities to build for growth,"

I am excited about the upcoming forum on Coquitlam Urban Forest trees on March 7.

I hope to take part in spirit as I retired to the Okanagan in 2015, though I have been a staunch advocate for Mundy forest since I was a teenager training with Port Moody Secondary School in Mundy's nature trails for cross-country runs.

It gives me enormous relief and pleasure that children today still enjoy those freedoms to get strong and fit in Mundy's protected natural parkland trails.

I led adult-walking and running groups there for decades, though warm-up and cool-downs happened outdoors at adjacent Hillcrest Elementary School’s lit, covered area until that area was assumed by Hillcrest’s expansion, as there was and is no Coquitlam parks exercise facility at Mundy Forest despite residents’ long-stated preference for walking in quiet forest trails.

That can change and I am also excited to pass on fresh news about Premier David Eby's Growing Community Fund; $18M is destined for Coquitlam.

In the above-mentioned Tri-City News article, Mayor Richard Stewart told Tri-City News he's not sure yet how the Coquitlam money will be spent; however, he "welcomed" the one-time cash injection to pay for new or upgraded infrastructure.

To me, that includes creating a Coquitlam Nature Centre at Mundy forest, which still doesn't have an existing Coquitlam parks facility onsite for residents to prepare for unstructured trail activity in Mundy Forest that was dedicated by 84 per cent of passionate Coquitlam residents in 1993 as heritage forest conservation via binding referendum.

Popular trail activities with indoor or outdoor warm-up and cool-down exercise serves guided mature tours, walking, running, cycling, cross country skiing and Volkssporting (European 10 km walking groups).

Coquitlam residents have been waiting for this allowable-use facility for 30 years, and it's time it happened with this serendipitous cash.

It's the right thing to do.

Coquitlam parks staff would operate a Coquitlam Nature Centre at Mundy and Riverview Urban Forest Park, similar to Surrey’s Nature Centre in Green Timbers Urban Forest Park — supported by local environmental volunteers.

Mundy and Riverview Forest, with its trails winding by two natural lakes, and Green Timbers are priceless natural assets as recreational spaces for quiet enjoyment and contemplation.

Both are the best comparable Urban Forest Parks left in Metro Vancouver. These natural wonders are threatened by housing demand and interface fires, though residents know their heritage birthright must prevail.

COVID-19 taught us all the absolute imperative of connecting daily to our natural world, and having safe, free access to its physical, mental, social and intangible health benefits, which combine to make life possible, and well worth living.

Mundy and Riverview forests are my legacy to past, present and future Tri-City generations to treasure in perpetuity as such.

What better way to promote a healthy future for everyone, including Mundy forest's high-wildlife values, than by completing a Coquitlam Nature Centre at Mundy forest?

Judy Donaghey, Enderby
Founder, Mundy Mudthudders
Co-Founder, Friends of Mundy Park Heritage Society
Member, Burke Mountain Naturalists