The new park in the Eastern Hillsides of Chilliwack will be known as Lexw Qwo:m Park.
The name — pronounced luhw KWOM — was chosen because it means “always lots of moss” in the traditional language of the Sto:lo people, and aptly describes the rainforest characteristics of the 3.5-hectare park.
It’s the latest project developed by the Chilliwack Park Society, along with City of Chilliwack, Sto:lo reps, and hundreds of volunteers who roughed out and built the park trails, including a connector trail to the Community Forest from the valley floor.
Cheam First Nation member Carrielynn Victor has been working on appropriate Halq’emeylem names for the trail network in the Community Forest, in consultation with local elders.
“In the naming process, the ancestral name for the area (Lexw Qwo:m) came forward from the oral history passed down in the community,” said Victor.
It’s recognition that the park is on unceded land within Sto:lo territory, which was known historically as a place of “sanctuary” and food sources for the nearby Cheam community.
“I believe it’s important work to remember and bring forward these names, because all of our children will benefit from knowing the true history of the land,” Victor added. “There has been some good momentum, and we’re working on a framework to formalize the naming process so this work can continue.”
The Halq’emeylem name for the new park was approved by city council at the Tuesday meeting, with plans for an official grand opening in the new year.
Mayor Ken Popove took a tour of the park last week with city staff.
“The name is fitting,” Popove said at the council meeting. “It’s like a microclimate in there. You look up into the trees and as far as you can see they are blanketed in moss. It’s the coolest thing, and it’s the first thing you notice about it.”
The site, off Hack Brown Road, was once the source of the city’s drinking-water supply at Dunville and Nevin Creeks.
“Day use trails within the park incorporate the old water intake structures as trail bridges and visitors will also be able to read historical information about how the structures were used by Elk Creek Waterworks,” according to the city staff report to council. “The park is also being built to act as a trailhead for a new trail to connect up to the Community Forest on Allan Road.”
The water intake infrastructure had metal walkways over them, which are being incorporated into Lexw Qwo:m Park.
Designed for mountain bikers, hikers, picnickers, day users and dog walkers, the park will feature two trails, one a 500m loop trail that connects the two old water intakes, and the second is a 3km mixed-use trail, that hikers will climb and mountain-bikers will descend.
Chilliwack Park Society founder Marc Greidanus said the process of developing the beautiful second park, in addition to the Chilliwack Community Forest, has been “super exciting” and a source of tremendous optimism.
“Plans for developing a connected trail system in the eastern hillsides has been our raison d’etre from the beginning,” he said.
That work started in earnest four or five years ago.
But they’ve only been working on this park for less than a year, after scouting the location last spring.
“Things moved quickly from there,” Greidanus said. “This will be another node in our connected system.”
The centrepiece of the park is the two artificial waterfalls from the creeks with a bridge over them.
“It will be another great place for Chilliwack to experience the outdoors, to get out in the forest, hear the waterfalls and more. It will be for family picnics and dog walk,” said Greidanus.
Former Coun. Sam Waddington got the project moving, he said, and Mayor Popove has been supportive from the start. Add in volunteers like the six to eight trail-building regulars, and the dozens of students from Unity Christian and the Ed Centre who’ve contributed.
“It’s been a great example of cooperation,” Greidanus added.