Minnekhada Regional Park in Metro Vancouver fully reopens following fall wildfire
Minnekhada Regional Park has fully reopened to the public months after a wildfire tore through the area.
The fire burned through 14 hectares of the park in Coquitlam, B.C., amid unusually hot and dry conditions in October last year. Investigators later determined it was human caused.
"This could have been much more dangerous than what it was, but it was kept under control," said John McEwan, chair of Metro Vancouver Regional Parks.
He credits the Coquitlam Fire Department, B.C. Wildfire Service, Metro Vancouver watersheds and Metro Vancouver Regional Parks for their work in containing the fire.
While the park was partially reopened after the fire was extinguished at the end of October, many areas were closed off to allow crews to conduct safety assessments and remove hazardous materials.
Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD), which administers the park, said in a statement that restoration is ongoing.
It said more than $14,000 in donations were raised to support restoration efforts in the area, which are being undertaken by the regional district in partnership with the Minnekhada Park Association and the Metro Vancouver Regional Parks Foundation.
"Much of the recovery will take place naturally. Our forests are resilient," said Pat Smith, supervisor of park operations with the regional district.
He adds four to six target areas have been identified fora jump start in restoration with newly planted, shrubs, trees, and plants.
"We're really excited to welcome people back ... We wanted to reopen the park as quickly as we can and as safely as we can," he said.
Visitors are being advised to stay on designated paths due to the risk of hazards caused by the wildfire damage.
There will be increased staff presence on trails and a strict prohibition on smoking, the statement said.
Mitigating future wildfires
Smith says the changes at Minnekhada include new approaches to mitigate future wildfires.
He said the team is ready for the fire season ahead, which runs from April to October, but that climate change has made the seasons more unpredictable.
"In the Lower mainland we usually think of October, November, December as pretty rainy months," Smith said, adding September and October last year were unusually dry months.
"All our wildfire equipment is all ready to go ... So if we do have something happen, we'll be ble to get on to it quickly."
McEwan says he's looking forward to seeing people enjoy the region's natural spaces, but hopes they also help preserve it.
"We want to keep the parks open, but we want to educate people to the responsibilities they have in regards to making sure this doesn't happen again."