The FVRD hopes to turn the East Sector Lands into a regional park.

Park planned for East Sector Lands

The lush lands of the East Sector will be turned into an official park, pending the 2016 FVRD budget

The East Sector Lands in Harrison Hot Springs could soon be turned into an official park.

The unofficial trails system on the east side of Harrison Hot Springs off McPherson Road is popular with local walkers but does not have a formal trail system. The Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) hopes to build on what is already there and turn it into an official park.

“The goal is to have this established as a regional park,” shares Christina Vugteveen, FVRD manager of regional parks. “There are existing trails but those trails are not maintained currently.”

She says trail improvements could include anything from trail resurfacing to removal of dangerous trees to adding amenities like picnic tables and signage.

The FVRD received funding from the Canada 150 Funding For Community Infrastructure grant for the project. The $24,250 will need to be matched by the FVRD, which means the project is pending budget approval for the FVRD 2016 budget.

Mark Strahl, MP for Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon, made the announcement recently.

“Our investment in community infrastructure is part of our Government’s plan to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation and it will help preserve valuable community and cultural spaces, such as parks, trails and cultural and community centres, that unite and connect us all across the West,” Strahl wrote in a press release.

Vugteveen says the funding should be enough to get the project started. The FVRD’s choice to formalize the East Sector Lands into a park came about after consultation with the Village a few years ago. Mayor Leo Facio reported at Council Monday evening that the plan for this park began three and a half years ago when he was approached by the Regional District for future projects.

“I pointed to our map and said, ‘regional park please’,” said Facio. “It will be a tremendous asset for our community.”

He says it is not a “done deal” yet, but it looks promising.

According to a spokesperson at Strahl’s office, as far as they know there are no more funding announcements upcoming for the Canada 150 grants. Both the Village of Harrison Hot Springs and the District of Kent had applied for funding as well. The Village Council requested a grant for improvements to the band stand in Harrison though they planned to “rescope” for another project. The District Council wanted to build a splash park near the Community Recreation & Cultural Centre.

The Canada 150 Infrastructure Program is part of the federal government’s activities to honour Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017. Other projects Strahl announced for funding included $5,100 for the  Hope Curling Club, $225,000 for spray park renovations in Chilliwack and $171,200 for the Stó:lō  Nation to upgrade the Coqualeetza cultural site buildings in Chilliwack.