Fraser trail network plan gains new park in Surrey

Parsons Channel site newest addition to Experience The Fraser river corridor

Newly acquired parkland in north Surrey along Parsons Channel. The opposite shore across that part of the Fraser River is Barnston Island.

A 12-acre park being created in Surrey along the Fraser River is the latest piece being dropped into the larger Experience the Fraser project that aims to open a network of contiguous riverside trails from Hope to the Salish Sea.

The forested land on Parsons Channel bought by the City of Surrey includes two fish-bearing creeks and will offer viewpoints overlooking the river.

Surrey Coun. Linda Hepner said the new park, located between 182A Street and Golden Ears Way, will attract people from around the region and provide a key Surrey chunk of the Experience the Fraser vision to “enhance recreation opportunities and create a thriving park system along the river.”

More than 43 per cent of the 550 kilometres of planned trails for Experience the Fraser are already in place, mostly in existing parks or along dykes.

The ultimate vision is for twin trails – dubbed the Canyon to Coast Trail – running on both sides of the river throughout the Lower Mainland, ending in Steveston and the Tsawwassen ferry terminal.

Surrey Bend Regional Park, Westminster Pier Park, the Pitt River greenway and the Matsqui Trail to Fort Langley are expected to be key sections in the 160-kilometre corridor.

Users could take side trips on linking trails into areas like the Kanaka Greenway or Sumas Mountain Regional Park.

Connections with the Sea-to-Sky trail and Trans-Canada trail are also envisioned.

The Experience the Fraser trails would connect heritage and First Nations cultural sites, amenities like campgrounds and other destinations, from museums to farm gate stores.

An initial concept plan was endorsed last fall by the Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley regional district boards.

The province provided $2.5 million in initial funding to develop the concept plan and help launch two demonstration projects – one on the Mission waterfront and the other a trail through Derby Reach Regional Park between the Golden Ears Bridge and Fort Langley.

Some ideas raised in the plan include self-propelled cable car crossings, “floatels” – floating hotels or bed-and-breakfasts in the river – and a floating event venue on a barge that could move from city to city for celebrations and festivals.

It also suggests developing “experi-turismos” that give visitors hands-on experiences similar to the Italian agriturismo concept.

“Imagine participating in a First Nations’ longhouse and village, working on a pioneer heritage farm, becoming a Royal Engineer for the day, or living at a working Fort,” the plan says.

How the full vision will be funded and governed is to be determined, but a broad partnership that could include the private sector is being pursued.

Inspiration has been drawn from similar trail networks elsewhere in the world, including the Waterfront Trail along Lake Ontario and the St. Clair River, and the $275-million Mountains to Sound greenway in Washington State.

 

Map of how Experience The Fraser trails (red) would mesh with other routes beyond the region.Also download detailed map of Experience the Fraser concept.