Metro Vancouver Regional Parks has spent $4.3 million to purchase 165 acres of land on the western flank of Sumas Mountain, with the intention of creating a park for hiking, mountain biking and light recreation.
“This is good news,” said Abbotsford Mayor George Peary. “Metro Vancouver sees Sumas Mountain, as we do, as a jewel.”
He said there are huge advantages to having Metro invest in this city, most notably that it isn’t costing Abbotsford taxpayers.
“We don’t have $4.3 million to invest in parks.”
Once completed, Peary expects the park, fronting on Upper Sumas Mountain Road, south of Batt Road, to attract visitors to the community.
“A lot of people will use this park, not just the citizens of Abbotsford.”
The city already owns three parcels of land on the mountain, about 120 acres in total, and discussion are taking place on a 99-year lease, so Metro can manage them as well.
The long-term plan would see the new parkland’s trail system join with others, including the Trans Canada Trail, Centennial, Matsqui Trail Regional Park and Chadsey Lake.
“We want all the trails to connect – that’s huge,” said Peary.
And creating some new mountain biking paths will solve a dilemma for sports enthusiasts.
“Many mountain bikers are riding at McKee Peak, but that’s private property,” explained Peary.
Once work begins, Peary estimates it will take about 18 months to establish a trail system.
Also located near the newly purchased lands is Sumas Mountain Regional Park, primarily on the eastern flank of the mountain.
Just over 3,500 acres, the park is run by the Fraser Valley Regional District.
“Eventually we’d love to create a bridge (of land) to join those parks together,” said Peary.
Wendy DaDalt, Metro Vancouver’s manager for east-area regional parks, said they are looking forward to working with the city.
“There is no real plan for the park, it’s more like a vision,” she said.
There is still plenty of planning to be done before the area is ready for public use, and conservation is a priority.
“We know there is vast eco-system on the mountain, and more environmental studies will be needed before moving ahead,” said DaDalt.
Metro also plans to meet with area residents, First Nations representatives and other interested groups.