A greenway was defined by the delegation as a multi-purpose recreation corridor of protected open space following natural land and water features. Black Press file photo.

A greenway was defined by the delegation as a multi-purpose recreation corridor of protected open space following natural land and water features. Black Press file photo.

Vision for recreational greenway around Nicomen Island finds unanimous support at Mission council

Delegation sought council to formally put plan on Fraser Valley Regional District’s agenda

An ambitious plan to build a 32-kilometer recreational greenway, looping from Dewdney around Nicomen Island and back, found unanimous support at Mission council.

A Mission Community Cycling Coalition (MCCC) delegation spoke to council on May 17, seeking endorsement at Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD).

“One of the ways of creating a cycling community is to create safe cycling places,” said Ron Corneau of the MCCC. “The Dewdney park, which is a beautiful, underdeveloped park of seven acres is just basically a boat launch right now, that’s not been really fully developed.

“You have all kinds of quiet roads. You have a beautiful river foreshore.”

The greenway was defined as a multi-purpose recreation corridor of protected open space following natural land and water features, and has a working name of the “Dewdney Nicomen Island Greenway.”

Their vision sees the path beginning at the Dewdney Regional Nature Park, using River Road South to cross the Nicomen Island Slough at Lougheed Highway, running along the dykes on the southside of Leq’á:mel First Nation, before looping back on quiet roads.

The proposed route of the Dewdney Nicomen Island Greenway.

The idea to incorporate the area’s dykes into something recreational is not new, according to the delegation.

Corneau said similar studies, going as far back as a 1969 report, have identified its potential. The dykes were highlighted again in the 1978 Fraser Valley Outdoor Recreational Features, a 1990 Fraser River Recreational Study, and a 1994 Greater Vancouver District Major Parks Plan Study.

The Fraser Report came out in 2012 calling for a large circular trail going from Hope in the north to the south sides of the Fraser River “creating a system building connections between communities, parks and natural resources.”

Corneau said there are 29 kilometers of dykes in Mission, and the connected property could become an asset to a growing community. He said more and more people are already using the Dewdney dykes for walking and cycling.

“It provides healthy recreation opportunities for all ages, it’s safe, it’s within minutes of Mission, and (greenways) conserve the foreshore of the river environmentally and diverse habitats,” he said. “Conceivably a trail between Mission and Deroche could become a transportation corridor for people living in those communities.”

Creating the greenway would have benefits for the local economy, increase the value of surrounding properties, and could have opportunities for tourism, Corneau said.

“It could really tell an interesting story of our history, our culture, and our agriculture in the region,” he said. “The trails pay for themselves.”

There are some land issues surrounding the project, relating to who exactly owns certain parcels of property – an issue which has come up with similar dyke-related projects in the Lower Mainland, according to Corneau.

“In the Pitt River area, they’ve had to go back sometimes to documents in the 30s to find out the legal owner,” he said.

The MCCC have been working on their vision for 18 months, have had meetings with FVRD directors and staff, as well as the local Indigenous Nations of Leq’á:mel and Xá:ytem, according to Glen Robertson, Mission’s former chief administration officer and member of the MCCC.

“We’re at a point where we really can’t move it forward without somebody being in charge of it,” said Robertson. “So it has to pass on to a higher level of government.”

Mission Council assured the delegation they would formally get the project on the FVRD agenda, and acknowledged the work completed so far.

“(This) has been on the table for a long time. I share the vision, if fact, I think this is a piece of a larger vision,” said Mayor Paul Horn.

Coun. Mark Davies said he’s spent a lot of time in the area, and a greenway would be great for seniors and people with mobility issues.

“This would only benefit everyone in the community,” Davies said. “I find it extremely peaceful, and such a pleasant area to walk. It’s so much quieter than a lot of the areas that we have in town here.”

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