Local park receives Great Places nomination

Vote online for Fraser River Heritage Park by Sept. 23

Mission residents already know what a gem Fraser River Heritage Park is, and now they have a chance to let the rest of Canada know.

The park is getting some national attention after it was nominated in this year’s Great Places in Canada contest this past summer.

The contest, sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Planners, consists of three categories: street, neighbourhood and public spaces. Mission’s popular park is up against areas like Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Tofino’s Pacific Rim National Park, and Victoria’s Inner Harbour for the public spaces title.

“We recognize (the park) as a unique place and it would be wonderful if the rest of Canada found out too,” said Don Brown, park manager.

“We’re very proud of out park any time of the year, and what everyone associated with the park has done,” he added, noting the collaboration between the Mission Heritage Association which operates the park, the District of Mission and the Fraser Valley Regional District.

But Brown is especially thankful for the community volunteers who help out.

“It’s a park for the community by the community,” he stated. “It’s very rare.”

The 44-acre park on Mary Street is located on the former grounds of St. Mary’s Mission and residential school. In 1974 the property was sold back to the provincial government and residents, spearheaded by Norma Kenney, campaigned to have the land turned into a park for everyone to enjoy.

The Mission Heritage Association has overseen planning and development of the park since it was created in 1985.

There are many amenities at the park, such as a rose garden, band stand, a restaurant, and the Rotary Flag Plaza.

Work is currently underway to build a heritage orchard and fundraising efforts are continuing for an observatory.

“We want to make it a community observatory and make it available to everyone, as well as professionals doing research,” explained Brown.

The park hosts numerous activities throughout the year, such as Canada Day celebrations, Mission Folk Music Festival, and the Envision Twilight Concerts every summer, but it is also a quiet place for you to walk your dog or take the children to play.

“Well maintained trails make it accessible to all; it is kept clean and free of litter, which highlights the pride the community takes in the park. It combines many cultural, religious and historic elements offering appeal to all in the community and visitors alike,” states the nomination form describing the park.

To vote for your favourite sites in Canada visit www.greatplacesincanada.ca. Voting ends on Sept. 23 and the winners will be announced on World Town Day in November.