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Metro Vancouver shines light on its parks network for 50th anniversary

Jennifer Saltman

The entrance to Deas Island Regional Park in Delta, B.C. (Ric Ernst/Postmedia Network/Files)

The entrance to Deas Island Regional Park in Delta, B.C. (Ric Ernst/Postmedia Network/Files)

Rick Hankin has a special place in his heart for Campbell Valley Regional Park in south Langley, even though, he says, it’s not the most spectacular park in the region.

“It doesn’t have an ocean shoreline with crashing waves. It has no huge waterfalls. It has no dramatic mountain peaks,” he said. “But if you want to be at peace with the world, go in there and be swallowed up by an Indian summer landscape that’s a hundred different shades of gold and green. It has an amazing effect.”

In the late 1960s, Hankin helped draft a plan that led to the creation of parks across the region, including Campbell Valley. He was at Burnaby Lake Park on Wednesday for the launch of Metro Vancouver’s celebration of 50 years of regional parks.

“Back in the 1960s, our planners recognized the importance of setting aside green spaces in our rapidly developing region, and have continued to enhance our regional parks system ever since,” said Greg Moore, Metro Vancouver’s board chair.

“Our staff have worked tirelessly over the years to ensure future generations have opportunities to explore, enjoy and be active in natural areas.”

When Metro Vancouver’s parks system was established, it had only a handful of parks and 3,835 hectares of land. Now, the system covers 14,500 hectares and includes 23 regional parks, three park reserves, two ecological conservancy areas and five greenways.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the parks system, Metro Vancouver has introduced a passport that lists public events and includes maps of and facts about each park. Users can collect stamps for every visit to a regional park or nature house and earn stickers, crests and pins or enter a draw. Thousand of passports have been distributed to community centres, libraries and regional park kiosks.

If keeping track of parks visits online and collecting virtual stamps is more convenient, the passport is also available as a smartphone app called MV Passport.

The passport is expected to encourage an additional 250,000 people to visit regional parks this year. In 2016, there were 11 million regional park visitors.

Eighteen of the region’s parks will also host celebratory events throughout the year, there will be 32 community events and mobile exhibits will travel between the parks. Metro is documenting park visitor stories in a “Humans of Regional Parks” storytelling series and posting online videos celebrating regional park champions such as Hankin.

jensaltman@postmedia.com

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