An undeveloped provincial park north of Coquitlam has the potential to be a world-class eco-tourism destination and economic generator for the city.
And, on Monday (June 21), the city’s council-in-committee endorsed staff’s plan to partner with BC Parks as it moves forward on Pinecone Burke Provincial Park.
The government agency is now in Phase Two of creating a draft park management plan, which has been in the works since 2014; there are four phases to the process.
BC Parks and the Katzie First Nation recently inked a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the plan — and Coquitlam said it wants to be part of the next round of consultations set for this year, during the 45-day outreach.
Coun. Teri Towner said demand for outdoor recreation is high — especially since the pandemic lockdown last year — and suggested that BC Parks “pick up the pace and move along faster” with its management plan for the 94,000-acre green space, which shares a border with Burke Mountain neighbourhoods, to the north.
Coun. Craig Hodge, a Burke Mountain resident who’s on the Metro Vancouver parks committee, also voiced his disappointment “that we’ve been talking for seven years about the management plan and we’re only at Phase Two” of four phases.
Established in 1995, Pinecone Burke Provincial Park presents “huge huge potential” for the city of Coquitlam, deputy manager Raul Allueva told the committee.
The nature-based experiences in Coquitlam “are a critically important part of our history and our identity today,” added economic development manager André Isakov, noting the provincial park is a destination for hikers and mountain bikers.
But with the current use — and future pressure in Metro Vancouver for backcountry recreation — the park could have social and environmental impacts if a management plan isn’t produced soon by BC Parks, Isakov warned the committee.
There are no toilets or parking; as well, the trails and wayfinding signs are limited and could present additional safety issues for emergency responders.
Tourism manager Eric Kalnins said Pinecone Burke Provincial Park was identified in 2014 as a major draw for nature lovers — and even international visitors.
He also noted its proximity to the Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain station and the yet-to-be built commercial hub in the Partington Creek neighbourhood on Burke as well as City Centre, where 24,000 more residents will call home in 20 years.
In the meantime, Allueva said city staff hope to meet with B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman at the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) convention in September; they also plan to meet with BC Parks, Destination BC and Indigenous Tourism BC, and find potential grants for the city to develop a tourism-based vision for the park.
“If planned and managed properly in a coordinated way, Pinecone Burke Provincial Park presents a tremendous opportunity for sustainable nature-based and community-led recreational and tourism offerings including mountain biking, hiking and other outdoor activities,” Kalnins told Tri-City News.
“Making the connection between local businesses and day-trip visitors will benefit the local economy.”
“Longer term,” he continued, “there is an opportunity to develop needed managed offerings such as guided tours and packaged multi-day experiences to support hotel stays. All this supports restaurants, retail and other businesses in Coquitlam. More importantly, such amenities will enhance the quality of life for our community.”
At nearly 90 times the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park, Pinecone Burke Provincial Park has old-growth forest, alpine lakes and remnant ice fields. It lies:
- North of Coquitlam’s Burke Mountain neighbourhoods
- South of Garibaldi Provincial Park, in Squamish
- West of Pitt Lake, the largest freshwater tidal lake in North America (Widgeon Slough is the largest freshwater marsh in southwestern B.C. while Widgeon Lake is the largest hanging lake on Metro Vancouver’s north shore mountains)
In an emailed statement, an environment ministry spokesperson told the Tri-City News that "BC Parks is currently collaborating closely with the First Nations whose territory overlaps with the park."
"BC Parks is committed to working with our Indigenous partners to ensure the management plan respects their heritage and current uses and interests within the park. Local governments are a key partner in parks management; BC Parks looks forward to engaging with the city of Coquitlam in the next stage of consultation."