The title to the eastern portion of Aldergrove Regional Park has been signed over to the City of Abbotsford.
The move comes after Abbotsford withdrew from the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD) Board for park purposes.
The City of Abbotsford will no longer participate as a member of the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD) Board for park purposes after an amending bylaw was recently approved by the Board, finalizing the City’s withdrawal from the MVRD Regional Parks Service and allowing the City to enter into its own sub-regional parks system with the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD).
The implementation of the service changes comes after four years of negotiations between Metro Vancouver and the City of Abbotsford. Prior to the bylaw adoption implementing the change, Metro Vancouver transferred parklands outside its regional boundaries – including Matsqui Trail Regional Park, portions of Sumas Mountain Interregional Park and the eastern section of Glen Valley – to Abbotsford.
MVRD also agreed to dispose of its fee simple interests in the eastern portion of Aldergrove Regional Park to the City of Abbotsford, but will continue to manage the entire regional park until the end of 2019 under an interim operating agreement with Abbotsford.
Aldergrove Regional Park is a full section (640 acres) of land split down the middle by the boundary between Abbotsford City and Langley Township.
Not all of the parklands have been developed for public use; for example several acres on the eastern half are leased to the Elks Club of Canada for use as a children’s campground. The popular Aldergrove Bowl and Off-Leash Dog Park are also inside the eastern half of the parkland.
The original Aldergrove Beach was privately developed and operated on 80 acres in the early 1960s by Harry and Florence Keillor. The provincial government announced its intention to purchase the Aldergrove Beach property in 1965 and a deal was formally made in 1968 to purchase the land. The Keillors stayed on as superintendents of the newly created Aldergrove Lake Regional Park, which continued to charge admission fees as well as hosted the 1968 Aldergrove Beach Rock Festival, until the park’s campgrounds closed in 1969.
The regional district continued to purchase surrounding properties until they acquired the entire section of land, and continued to operate the free swimming pond until early 2011 when it was filled and permanently closed.
The property is now known as Aldergrove Regional Park, although Abbotsford will now have the option of renaming their half of the park.
The government agencies concerned were upbeat about the changes.
“These changes in governance and service delivery will provide mutual benefits to all three organizations and park users throughout Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley,” said Heather Deal, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Parks Committee. “This means we can reinvest more money into parks and future acquisitions to the benefit of the region’s residents.”
“This is great news for the City of Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley as it will help us to enhance our regional parks system,” said Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun. “We are committed to preserving these transferred park lands for future generations to enjoy.”
As part of the move, Metro Vancouver will provide a one-time financial contribution to the City of Abbotsford of $1,050,000. This comprises $650,000, which represents the City of Abbotsford’s proportional contribution to the MVRD Regional Park Reserve Fund, plus $400,000 in one-year transitional funding.
“The agreement is a win-win for our residents and all parties involved,” said Jason Lum, Chair of the FVRD. “This will allow us to improve both stewardship and governance in the parks service, both in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, and keep parkland within its natural boundaries.”