Metro Vancouver expands protected wetland near Pitt Meadows

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PITT MEADOWS, B.C. — Metro Vancouver's network of regional parks has grown with the expansion of a protected wetland near Pitt Meadows, B.C.

Bill Dingwall, the mayor of Pitt Meadows, says 56 hectares have been added to Codd wetland ecological conservancy area, which is not yet open to visitors.

He says the property had been zoned for rural residential development but is now protected after the Metro Vancouver regional district purchased the land for $7.4 million last year.

Dingwall says plans are underway to manage public access, while certain ecologically sensitive areas will remain off limits.

Sav Dhaliwal, the Metro Vancouver board chair, says use of regional parks has exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says the parks that usually see 11 to 12 million visitors each year had already attracted more than 14 million as of the end of October, a 37 per cent increase.

"Our experience in 2020, both in terms of record visitation and COVID response, underscores the importance of expanding the regional park system," he said.

Demand for regional parks was increasing at a rate more than double that of population growth prior to the pandemic, he noted, while acquiring new parkland is also a key part of the region's climate adaptation efforts.

The expansion of the Codd wetland protected area is part of Metro Vancouver's land acquisition strategy for regional parks.

Since 2018, the regional district says it added more than 200 hectares of land for new and existing parks, including the Codd wetland.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 9, 2020.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press