Humans of Regional Parks

As part of our 50 year celebration, we’re presenting this series to give you a glimpse of regional parks through the eyes of our visitors.


  • Kanaka Creek Regional Park

     

    “We come here at least once a week. It’s close to home and accessible for the kids. There’s no playground – they just play with the trees, rocks and sticks. They use their imaginations and we love that.”

    “That’s why we like coming here – giving them that connection with nature and each other; not being on screens. We’re together having fun in this beautiful park.”


    “I got involved in the mid-70s before the park was a reality. I was teaching at schools in the watershed. My students got involved with the hatchery. Now I’m with KEEPS [Kanaka Education Environmental Partnership Society]. My kids have grown up in the creek and now my grandkids. Nature is all around us here and that’s been preserved in perpetuity by Kanaka Creek Regional Park. That makes me feel good. I see more people coming out here that are aware of the beauty and that makes me feel the warmest. We are so fortunate to have this in the Lower Mainland and Kanaka Creek Regional Park is only one cog in the whole regional parks system concept.”


    “In almost all cases, people don’t try to be nasty to nature, they just don’t know how to take care of it. So, I thought, let’s get KEEPS [Kanaka Education and Environmental Partnership Society] into the schools and we can teach kids about their local creek and then they’ll teach their parents. Today, there aren’t too many people in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows that we haven’t touched in some way.

    Kids are great. One time the kids were starting an impromptu funeral for this dead salmon that they found in the creek. I had to think really fast because emotion is contagious at that age and they were getting upset. So I said, ‘I want you kids to think of an animal that will be made happy when it finds this dead salmon downstream.’ Someone said, ‘A raccoon?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Seagull?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘Bears?’ ‘Yeah.’ Then one girl pushed the salmon away and she said, ‘Goodbye salmon. We’ll miss you. Your babies will be beautiful just like you.’ And I’m trying to hold it together. Four of the moms are dabbing their eyes with Kleenex.

    This place, this is my church. That’s the way I feel. It’s part of me. I feel like it’s something I was put here to do, is to watch over and take care of it.”

    “This park is so close to us and it’s really beautiful. We love being by the water. We want to keep active and moving and our son likes it too. Hopefully as he gets older he can see the animals and start pointing them out. He loves nature and we want to keep him in nature as much as possible. Someday he’ll run ahead of us!”


    “I do a lot of early morning walks and it’s quite lovely. I’ve seen bald eagles, rabbits. We saw a bear once. Luckily, I saw it and my dog didn’t and we turned around. I’ve never felt afraid. It helps that I have a big escort here, but I’ve even come walking on my own when I haven’t had a dog. It’s as close to natural, wilderness walking as you’re going to get in a place so close to developed areas.”


  • Burnaby Lake Regional Park

    “I started as a participant in Catching the Spirit Youth Society and then I became a Peer Leader. We do camps here. You get to expand your leadership skills by leading kids who are your age or sometimes older. Catching the Spirit is about promoting environmental stewardship which is very important to me. It feels very rewarding if someone leaves camp with an interest in starting an environmental club at their own school or getting their parents to start composting at home. I know that they are going to make a difference in their own community.”


    “In the late 1960s, Burnaby was running into problems with disposal of garbage. So the idea was that they would use this area as a garbage dump. Our group became very active politically; our plan was to preserve this lake. Our group became known as the Burnaby Lake Park Association. I’ve been volunteering in this park for about 45 years. It makes me feel good to see how the park is being used. I could not imagine it being a garbage dump. It is a very pleasant surprise to see the number of people using it.”


    “When I say ‘I’m going to the lake’, my husband knows which one – Burnaby Lake! It’s my favorite. I’m into photographing wildlife. Just the other day, one of these blackbirds was attacking a heron and riding piggyback – on a great blue heron! There’s some birds that come through that are rare and that’s a treat. There’s also bobcats, bears, coyotes. Parks are important. This is what we should preserve. This is beautiful. This is nature.”

    “It’s our first time to Burnaby Lake Regional Park. It’s quiet and pretty here.”

    “We would come back here. It’s beautiful. Nice to find a new place to walk.”

    “Our daughter wanted to go somewhere new. She always plans where to go. When she was little she followed our plans and now we follow hers.”


    “It was 1978. I was in university, studying forestry and saw an advertisement for a park interpreter here at Burnaby Lake Regional Park. This badge I’m wearing was one of my first name tags! The thing that really sold me was working with kids and seeing the expression on their faces. They have that joyous excited look and that’s what I feel in the park too. I retired in 2015 after about 27 years with Metro Vancouver Regional Parks. Now I get to come to the park when I want. It’s like visiting an old friend. I hope to visit this park for the rest of my life.”


    “I like this park because it’s got all sorts of food for me to munch on … fresh green grass, energy-packed berries. Plus ants and beetle larvae – I have to grub around in the logs to find those tasty morsels. I’m telling you, it’s a bear buffet out here. Earlier this afternoon some humans got too close to me, so close that I could hear what they were saying. They were talking about how bears like to eat people. That's ridiculous! You’d have to chew through all those clothes – yuck. But I can get really protective of my space. So please stay far away from me. I'm sure you humans are all nice enough, but you smell awful.”


  • Campbell Valley Regional Park

    “I’ve been with horses for most of my life and I really couldn’t imagine life without them. It’s cool that grandma and I could go in the dressage schooling show competition together.”

    “I’ve been volunteering at the park with the Campbell Valley Equestrian Society. I’m the President. We’ve got this beautiful opportunity to do this in such a relaxed outdoor park setting instead of a high pressure indoor setting.”


    “About 25 years ago, we started walking here with a group of friends on Sundays and now we walk almost every day. There’s a lovely sense of community here. I get the feeling that people look out for each other. We make sure we thank the staff and volunteers because it’s one way to let them know that they’re doing a good job. We bring our grandkids here when they come to town. Our grandson is coming to live with us so he knows he’ll be coming down here. He just knows that this is something that’s precious to us.”


    It’s nice to have an off-leash area where the dog can run because we have a pretty small yard. If we didn’t have places like this, we wouldn’t be able to have a dog or not an active dog anyways. The kids like being outdoors. The whole world is about technology. I grew up on a small farm and we didn’t have computers or videogames. We had animals. I’m trying to make sure that’s still a part of their lives.


    “We look at cool nature stuff here. Mushrooms and stuff. Giant trees.”

    “I’ve been riding here for over 30 years. It’s beautiful in the trees. I just enjoy it. I try and come out three or four times a week.”

    “It’s just a lovely place to be in the city. We ride in the back country and go camping with our horses, but this is in the city and you can get nature, grass and trees. And it’s quiet … peaceful. We love it here.”


    “We come here usually every weekend. It’s relaxing. A nice ritual to do together.”

    “It’s a good place for our son to see a little bit of what nature’s all about instead of just being around really populated areas. I don’t think we’re planning on moving away, so this will kind of be his park.”


    “When this nature house came on board, I started right away as a volunteer. Now I’m the coordinator for about 40 volunteers. I love working with the regional park staff. And the volunteers are incredible.

    It’s fun to be able to educate children about the park and nature. I never had a chance to do it with my grandchildren. They lived in Japan when they were young so I didn’t get a chance to do that. So I’m doing it with the children that come in here."


  • Colony Farm Regional Park

    "I’m really surprised by the diversity of life here. I’m looking at a seal right now in the river. Saw a coyote as soon as we got here. It feels very urban but then all of a sudden there is all this wildlife jumping out for you to see! Getting outside to Metro Vancouver's regional parks is really important. Turn the cell phone off, unplug. There is so much wilderness. I think that's what so amazing about living here."


    "We’ve raised our kids here: we’ve come when they’ve been teeny tiny, to do the birdwatching thing, when the kids were in Brownies and Guides, and school field trips. Now they’re gone and we’re biking!"


    "My family is only three people. So, of course we give some to other gardeners, our neighbours and the food bank. Some people grow just for the food bank. And the demo plot, just over there - most of it is going to the food bank. Last year, we sent around 5000 pounds of produce to the food bank - the whole community garden ... more than 5000 pounds!"

    "We come here often because it's a nice walk. I do the long one. My husband does the short one. He waits for me."


    "It’s somewhere to escape to that is pleasant and quiet. It’s nice to be here and see all the greenery and the plants. And the birds, of course!"


  • Pacific Spirit Regional Park

    "We’re going to be Canadians few years from now, proudly so. We’re from Iran. All I’m doing is helping my kids grow up in a better community in a safer and calmer place. We’ve tried different places in Canada: Toronto, Calgary and this is the last place. 20 days and I’ve decided this is the place to stay. Here you can see eternity. See? Look at that. It is really beautiful. I’m telling you it is spectacular. This is the unique thing about Vancouver, to keep the nature just as is and preserving it. I’m sure the next generation will be proud of us for protecting the nature."


    "We’re a bunch of single people. It just evolves and new people come in and out. I think we share a common passion of running and now obviously, the nature of this park. So, it’s a connection for us."

    "Every time we go through, we run the same place but it’ll look different at different times of year, and in the rain and the sun."

    "You feed off each other in running and in a park - the beauty just keeps you going."

    "That’s what I think you get out of this park. That grows the connection between us."

    "So here we’re living on the cusp of Vancouver, a big growing city, but we can escape here and attach with nature."


    "Addie is having her first visit to the beach since she had a major surgery, a full knee replacement, and it’s been a long road to recovery. This is the first sunny day where she was well enough to come down and enjoy putting her little paws in the water. It’s an important thing for her to be able to get out and feel the wind on her face and breathe some salty air. I think it’s important for my spirit, too, to get to come out and do the same thing. And what a beautiful day and a beautiful spot.

    I had a terrible injury about four years ago, and she was my feel-good project after. She helped me to rehabilitate from my injury by getting out and walking and staying active, so of course I’m happy to do the same thing for her.

    She’s a very special dog. Somebody rescued her originally from Delhi, India and brought her over and then weren’t good to her. So she ended up being a rescue many times over, and came to me. I was just meant to keep her for a couple of weeks and then I kept her for good."

    "I’m here in Vancouver for only four years. I come from a really dry place and I come here and it’s a very wet place. I am from Pakistan but for the last 40 years we were living in Saudi Arabia. My husband was working there and our daughters are settled here. At this age, we thought we should be near our daughters so we came here. We are very happy to have made the decision.

    It is so rainy but so green. It’s just incredible. I just keep looking at the trees and it just sinks in me. It’s so beautiful. I’ve missed it in my life. When I’m in the park I really love it. I want to be there more and more."


    “After my son was born, I’d come here almost daily to walk in the park. I could see the changes in nature throughout the year and that really connected to me on how life is constantly changing. It kind of soothes the soul. I had a bit of post-partum depression and it sometimes felt scary. This, nature, was a place where I felt a little bit more grounded and inspired. It was quite a lovely part of my day that I looked forward to.

    At some of the favourite trails that I used to go on, when I’m on them now I still think about him. He’s 15 now. He goes for lots of walks still. We will often go for walks together if he wants to talk about stuff. It’s been nice to do that together throughout our life.”