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Letter: Coquitlam's Mundy Forest has too many trails fragmenting habitat and disturbing wildlife

We don’t support tree removal to create new community trails adjacent to private residences due to valid resident privacy and safety concerns, wrote a former Coquitlam resident.
Austin Works Yard protest
[From left to right] Niloofar "Niloo" Mohandesi, Elizabeth Baldazzi (crouching), Eve Gauthier and environmental advocate Nancy Furness, who has a PhD in plant ecophysiology, are petitioning the City of Coquitlam about the loss of trees and privacy for residents as a result of the Austin Works Yard expansion project. The 40-year-old city yard, located at Austin Avenue and Mariner Way, has been on council's books for years for an upgrade.

The Editor:

Re: Coquitlam neighbours spar with city on Austin Works Yard expansion (Jan. 12, 2022). As a Coquitlam resident who lived for years on Pinnacle, I walked my son to school daily through Mundy Park forest trails, skirting the Austin Works Yard and up Hickey.  My husband grew up on Haversley, and says that property was set aside for future expansion of operations. He and his late father worked at the Austin Works Yard for years.  We agree residents have the option to use other, existing Hickey trails, or sidewalks along Mariner Way, to access Austin, so more community trails are unnecessary.  We don’t support tree removal to create new community trails adjacent to private residences due to valid resident privacy and safety concerns.

We believe Mundy Forest has too many trails fragmenting habitat and disturbing wildlife now.  As one of the Friends of Mundy Park’s founders in 1991, we responded to proposed executive golf course development by lobbying council for binding referendum questions on the November 1993 municipal election ballot, resulting in 84 per cent of Coquitlam residents supporting a new urban forest dedication to protect all forested portions of Mundy Forest as such in perpetuity, for public use and enjoyment, and management, conservation and enhancement of native flora and fauna.

Allowable uses included

  • a nature house 
  • nature trails
  • parking 
  • public washrooms

 In 1993, dogs were required to be on-leash in all Mundy Forest’s nature trails, which people respected.  In 1998, 100 Coquitlam dog owners petitioned council for a dedicated off-leash dog park near what is today Mundy’s Chilko entrance. Council policymakers decided, without due stakeholder group consultation, to create a trial off-leash area above Mundy Lake, which quickly failed. Council policymakers then decided, again without due consultation, to give dog owners off-leash hours on all trails dawn to 10 a.m. daily. Reported serious injuries where a runner was bitten at Mundy Lake resulted in dogs being banned there, and at Lost Lake. Many residents are very uncomfortable with off-leash trail activity. Mundy Park’s dedicated off-leash dog park was completed in November 2009 — 11 years after it was petitioned for by dog owners.

Six months prior, the May 2009 by-election asked Coquitlam residents three non-binding questions:

  • increase off-leash trail hours
  • decrease hours
  • continue with morning off-leash hours

The third got the non-binding vote, though council took a month to release vote results, without explanation.  As a stakeholder on Coquitlam’s Mundy Forest Management Plan Committee in 2015, I didn’t support removing trees for a new nature trail, or having an off-leash dog trail in dedicated habitat. Those weren’t discussed or voted on by stakeholder groups present. Council decided to do that later.  In June 2015, I retired to the Okanagan, confident other committed residents passionate will protect Mundy Forest intact as conservation lands.

I support Burke Mountain Naturalists' view that Mundy Forest’s high wildlife values preclude the presence of off-leash dogs. New fencing to keep dogs out of sensitive habitat is welcome. I was in Mundy Forest trails last July at noon, and two excited women told me a mother bear with cubs were swimming in Mundy Lake, thrilling testament conservation works.

Respect Our Nature signs are helpful reminders that our heritage legacy is alive and well, if we make it so. October 2022's municipal election could include binding referendum questions to:

  • create a Mundy Nature House, staffed by Coquitlam Parks and volunteers, with regular Nature tours
  • dedicated off-leash dog parks in lieu of off-leash trail hours
  • necessary stakeholder group of dog owners responsible for dog park control and maintenance, Pooch Patrol trail education and liability funding for personal injury to others, or damages to parkland
  • regular RCMP Mundy Forest trail safety patrols due to increased use

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