Green space lauded by Chilliwack mayor in year-end report

There is huge community pride in the beautiful surroundings in Chilliwack.

New trails in the Community Forest Park were mentioned in the Year-End Report at city hall by Mayor Sharon Gaetz. These volunteers with Chilliwack Park Society were roughing in the latest trails in the new green space off Allan Road.

New trails in the Community Forest Park were mentioned in the Year-End Report at city hall by Mayor Sharon Gaetz. These volunteers with Chilliwack Park Society were roughing in the latest trails in the new green space off Allan Road.

Chilliwack residents may not be fully aware of the “true amount of work” city council managed to accomplish in 2015, said Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

“They passionately work hard to ensure Chilliwack is the best it can be, and I know we wouldn’t be where we are without such a dedicated team,” Gaetz said, during her 2015 Year-End Address in council chambers at city hall Tuesday.

The mayor took a few minutes to thank council, volunteers and staff and everyone else who toils on the city’s behalf.

There is huge pride in the beautiful surroundings and that’s reflected in City of Chilliwack’s obvious commitment to increasing and improving the quality of its green spaces.

“One area of continued civic pride is our great outdoors,” said Gaetz.

Chilliwack boasts 100 picturesque parks and 85 km of trails.

“We have been working hard to ensure everyone can enjoy our green spaces.”

The green space inventory in Chilliwack grew by an incredible 61.88 hectares in 2015, according to the statistics included in the year-end report.

“One notable addition was the opening of the Chilliwack Community Forest property as public green space,” said Gaetz.

That community forest park land, with its new trail system created by Chilliwack Park Society, accounted for a whopping 54.4 ha of the total extra 61.88 ha of park land.

Here are the other projects that saw added green space:

River’s Edge Development woodlot (1.4 ha)

• Part 2 of Weeden Park in Promontory (5.37 ha)

• Allan Creek Park parcels in Eastern Hillsides (.71 ha)

They also added a staircase to connect Teskey Way to Weeden Park trail network, and 12 new portable washrooms, with eight along the Vedder Trail.

One of the more interesting factoids in the year-end review was the spike in ridership numbers for the FVX.

Turns out an average of 300 people per day ride the Fraser Valley Express (FVX), which runs from Chilliwack to Corvath Station in Langley.

The numbers have surpassed all expectations in the route’s first year of express intra-regional service, through the various Fraser Valley communities.

The FVX, which is primarily the responsibility of BC Transit and the FVRD, stops at several stops in Chilliwack.

The city pitched in by establishing new bus stops at the Park & Ride on Yale Road, including a new shelter and crosswalk, as well as improvements to several other bus stops serviced by the FVX program.

“In terms of public transit, we know that the next few years may be challenging due to the funding freeze by the Provincial government,” said Gaetz.

The trail system is getting some attention.

“Another pedestrian friendly initiative that we continued to work on in 2015 was the Sardis Rail Trail North, which will connect Luckakuck to Airport, along the rail line.”

Preliminary work is underway on that one.

“We are hopeful that the pedestrian bridge and path construction will begin midway through next year.”

The popular spray park is set for an upgrade at the Landing Leisure Centre to the tune of $225,000, thanks to a federal grant from Western Economic Diversification Canada fund.

It will help Chilliwack usher in Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, and construction will start in fall of 2016.

Lots of residents are looking forward to better access from Promontory to the valley floor.

“This long-term plan will eventually culminate with roundabouts on Prest Road, along with increased room for pedestrians and more bike lanes, not to mention other important upgrades.”

With the help of federal and provincial grants, a $2.5 million upgrade of the Collinson Pump Station was realized. The upgrades to this station will almost double pumping capacity to accommodate a 1-in-100 year return period rainfall event.

Work on the diking system continues in earnest to meet provincial standards and provide the extra flood protection to about 45,000 residents, businesses, and utilities, including the hospital.

“As we move into the next phases of upgrades, we will continue discussions with the Skwah and Skxwha:y Village First Nations.”

Green projects continue as well, and 2015 marked the first year of operation of the new Landfill Gas Extraction System at the Bailey Landfill.

“This system significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions by converting the methane in landfill gas to carbon dioxide,” she said.

There were many more projects and events mentioned, and the year-end report will eventually go online.

“We make a great team and I can’t wait to see what we will accomplish in 2016,” said Gaetz.