The initial Experience The Fraser concept map excluded the north arm of the Fraser River.

Experience trails to add Fraser’s north arm, Colony Farm

Revisions expected to boost appeal in Richmond, Coquitlam, but questions linger over funding



The proposed Experience the Fraser trail network through the Lower Mainland will add a leg down the north arm of the Fraser River between Richmond and Vancouver.

And existing trails along both sides of the Coquitlam River in Colony Farm Regional Park will also be designated part of Experience The Fraser.

The revisions to the concept plan approved by Metro Vancouver’s environment and parks committee are expected to be approved in late July.

Gaetan Royer, Metro’s manager in charge of planning, environment and parks, said the extensions should add to the appeal of the 550-kilometre trail network extending from Hope to the Salish Sea.

Another concept plan revision emphasizes the importance of bridges to trail users who want to be able to cross the river to follow loop routes.

Royer said Metro has ensured the draft terms of reference for rebuilding the Pattullo Bridge includes a reference to Experience the Fraser and the need to ensure good connections for pedestrians and cyclists no matter what final bridge configuration is determined.

Experience The Fraser this spring received a $1 million grant, being split by Metro and the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD), to open new park land, improve access and continue building the Canyon To Coast trail, considered the backbone of the Experience plan.

Much of Metro’s share is going to add more money for already planned park upgrades to the Mission Bridge day-use area in Matsqui Trail Regional Park and to open up a section of Surrey Bend Regional Park with a riverfront trail and day-use amenities.

Metro is also devoting money to a canoe launch at Kanaka Creek Regional Park and interpretive signage along the New Westminster waterfront.

The FVRD is expected to spend the majority of its grant money on trail development.

The two regional districts are jointly working on a travelling exhibit, speakers’ bureau, signage standards.

They also plan to place signs for Experience The Fraser’s first phase, including a 33-kilometre segment from Colony Farm to Fort Langley, as well as trail segments already developed in the FVRD.

But some Metro directors have already been voicing concern that the ambitious trail network is long on talk and short on the much larger amounts of money that will be required to actually complete it.

The regional board has been debating a freeze on parkland acquisition because its parks budget levy has been unable to keep pace with rising costs and land prices.

Metro environment and parks committee chair Heather Deal said impressive Experience the Fraser projects will be underway soon.

“Whether we get continued funding will be up to us, whether we do a good job of lobbying,” the Vancouver councillor said.

“It will be a challenge. I think it will actually be easier now that we’ve got the north arm on with some large urban populations, with MLAs and MPs who represent them.”

The initial Experience The Fraser concept map excluded the north arm of the Fraser River.