Big Rock at Aldergrove Regional Park.

Future of Lower Mainland park in question as ownership transition hits snag

Aldergrove Regional Park, a full square mile of land, straddles the Langley-Abbotsford border

A wrinkle in the transition of parkland responsibilities has put the future of Aldergrove Regional Park in question.

Metro Vancouver Parks has overseen operations and maintenance of the regional parks throughout the Fraser Valley for many years, but the Abbotsford City is in the process of taking responsibility over for parklands within its boundaries.

It has been a smooth transition for parks such as Matsqui Trail, Sumas Mountain and the eastern portion of Glen Valley Regional Park referred to as Poplar Bar and Duncan Bar, including Crescent Island — to be transferred to the City of Abbotsford.

However, Aldergrove Regional Park, a full square mile of land, straddles the Langley-Abbotsford border, with half of it inside Langley and half inside Abbotsford.

Under the agreement, Aldergrove Regional Park would continue to be owned and operated by Metro Vancouver, as approximately 75 percent of its users reside in Metro Vancouver.

However, “it turns out that the proposed Order in Council that would potentially have allowed Metro Vancouver to operate land outside its boundary in Abbotsford (which relates to the eastern portion of Aldergrove Regional Park) was not deemed applicable by the Province,” said Wendy Dadalt, division manager of Regional Parks.

“While all parties wish to keep the park whole and operated by Metro Vancouver, a legal mechanism for this has not yet been established.

“In order to keep the process to facilitate the service area amendment moving forward the board decided to dispose of the eastern portion of Aldergrove to the City of Abbotsford with the understanding that Metro Vancouver would work with the Province to find a way to prevent this from being implemented in the end. Metro Vancouver would continue to operate the park for awhile if this was unavoidable and continue to seek a reversal mechanism. This is an unfortunate situation and needs to be carefully monitored to ensure this intent is realized,” said Dadalt, adding that stakeholder concerns could be submitted.

Metro Vancouver reached an agreement with the City of Abbotsford, which enables the City to withdraw from Metro Vancouver’s regional parks function. Once approved, the City of Abbotsford will no longer participate in or financially contribute to parks within Metro Vancouver and can allocate resources to parks within its own municipality and region.

A bylaw enabling Abbotsford’s withdrawal underwent a first reading at the November 24 meeting of Metro Vancouver’s board. The board also had endorsed a proposed Order in Council for the province’s consideration that would enable Metro Vancouver to own and operate parkland outside its geographical boundaries, without requiring membership of the City of Abbotsford in the MVRD parks function.

Aldergrove residents and park users are questioning what this could mean for Aldergrove Regional Park’s future.

Robert Puls, president of the Langley Field Naturalists (LFN), has expressed concerns over the possible outcomes of the dispersal of the park ownership and management.

“At this point we have no insight to the pros and cons of this land ownership swap and are concerned for the future of the park. The LFN have ongoing involvement with the park, particularly the wetland restoration in the south west corner,” said Puls.

“We need to know what changes could occur in management and whether we need to become involved in the process.”

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