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Letter: Coquitlam residents angry about changes to Crane Park

"Blindsided" by plans to alter Crane Park, a Coquitlam neighbourhood says it's tried to reach out to the mayor and city officials but with no luck.

The Editor,

My name is John Williams and I am a long-time resident of Coquitlam, a former youth ambassador for the City of Coquitlam and have worked alongside the members of parliament, as well as city council.

Crane Park is a small and beautiful field of open green grass where children, adults and their pets have been coming to enjoy picnics, sports and games for many, many years.

Last year, a sign was placed on the entryway of the park to add a tremendous amount of concrete to make a track around what would be a sawdust-filled playground for toddlers ages 0 to two years old.

The general consensus of the community was that this plan made absolutely zero sense: It would hinder the function of the park completely.

In fact, it seemed as if this plan was made without visually inspecting the park, but only from a satellite view.

The members of community were also concerned about the budgeting of their tax dollars to a playground as there was a near-million dollar playground built recently only a two-minute walk up the street, at Mundy Park.

My brother and I, alongside multiple of said members of this community, reached out with these concerns to the city.

We made arrangements to meet the park planners in charge of this project; Wendy Wiederick and a construction lead met us at the park.

At the time, the members of the community expressed concerns about this design. We expressed the importance of the park for children to have unstructured play and that the park required no updates besides improving the drainage.

We posted our information on the Coquitlam Community Facebook Group page.

Mayor Richard Stewart replied to several comments, saying that this park plan was not going to be completed. He further suggested that these plans were never confirmed and they were never going to happen at all.

Shorty after, all the construction plan signs came down and the city workers fenced off a smaller area that they confirmed to be only for updating drainage.

Hooray! Park saved!

But several months later, a sign was placed further into the park — with a much different drawing showing a few trees and a small playground.

Since then, my brother and I have called the city every single day, without any return calls.

Other members of the community were also absolutely furious and felt blindsided by these plans, also calling in to the parks department and to Mayor Richard Stewart.

Again, no response whatsoever.

Today (May 29, 2023), construction workers arrived with bulldozers and proceeded to mark out a large pathway by hand that goes through the entire park, which they confirmed will be dug up today and poured with concrete.

My brother and I are taking a stand. We have entered the construction site and will continue to be here to halt construction and represent the community that opposes the blasphemy of this park design.

We look forward to completing a petition, too. We believe we can save this park and do right by the local community who live here, and love and cherish Crane Park.

—John Williams, Coquitlam