Message received from Coquitlam Council Watch:
Colony Farm Regional Park will soon be facing some MAJOR changes if (when) Metro Vancouver plans are approved, greatly affecting park users(you!) and wildlife at your expense!
On the afternoon of Sept 14, Metro Vancouver presented the Colony Farm Sustainability Plan to the Coquitlam Recreation, Sports and Culture Standing Committee Meeting, a ~$30million plan that will see the park get a major facelift into a commercial agriculture farm academy, at your expense! The plan does not respect the needs of local community, wildlife and existing park users of Colony Farm. The public consultation regarding this plan will be inadequate and will follow too closely upon public consultation on the draftRegional Parks Plan.
Presenting two plans that are closely linked makes the situation very complicated (perhaps a part of the plan), so in an effort to offer some clarity so you can have YOUR say about what happens in YOUR park, please see below:
The Regional Parks Plan: The 2005 Regional Parks Plan is being updated this year, with some significant changes and concerns. The Regional Parks Plan Public consultation is happening now, you must provide comments by Monday, September 19th, 2011. There is an Open House this week (details below) or you can send them via email to RegionalParksPlan@metrovancouver.org. We have some major concerns, including:
- On page 5, the plan states: When Metro Vancouver grants exclusive use of Regional Parkland to individuals, corporations or organizations, it will ensure these agreements generate public value and maintain public access where appropriate.
- On page 6, it states the plan commits staff to pursuing opportunities to generate revenue through enhanced services.
- Under the goal of ecological health, the plan states that MV will develop sustainable farming principles to ensure farming in regional parks contributes to ecological health. (??)
- Under the goal of outdoor recreation, the plan states MV will provide opportunities to experience working farm landscapes in appropriate park sites through the establishment of an active farm program and the development of policies to fit agriculture within regional park settings.
- Under the goal of economic opportunities, the plan states MV will identify potential enhancements to service and programs……and seek partnership with the private sector and other public sector entities to provide such enhancements.
- Also under this goal, the plan states MV will integrate tourism strategies into regional park planning and develop guidelines for business case analysis and cost/revenue sharing for enhanced revenue partnerships.
The Colony Farm Sustainability Plan: A $30 million plan is underway to create an Academy for Sustainable Food, which will see Colony Farm Regional Park undergo massive changes. There is much to say about this plan, and the Public Consultation Process has not started, but is likely just around the corner and will be over before you know it. For now I will highlight a few of the many concerns:
- The public consultation regarding this plan will be inadequate and will follow too closely upon public consultation on the draft Regional Parks Plan
- The plan does not respect the needs of local community and existing park users of Colony Farm.
- Some of the initiatives proposed in the plan include having almost 40 hectares of land devoted to market crops – Is it appropriate to use park land for private commercial ventures or institutional education? I do not think so.
- Little thought appears to have been given to negative impacts on wildlife habitat and public use – As an example, the 2009 draft plan for Colony Farm called for planting several hectares of berries that would inevitably attract bears and starlings (an aggressive non-native bird).
- Is it appropriate to use taxpayer-derived funds to support private ventures?
Please submit your comments to both Metro Vancouver AND the City of Coquitlam. If you have any questions, please email us. Here is the Open House information for the Regional Parks Plan, but if you cannot attend, please submit your comments before Monday September 19th to RegionalParksPlan@metrovancouver.org
Date: Wednesday, September 14th
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 (presentation starts at 6:30)
Location: Metro Vancouver Head Office, Information Centre
4330 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC
Jane Thomsing (on behalf of Coquitlam Council Watch)