Humans of Regional Parks

A series to give you a glimpse of Metro Vancouver’s regional parks through the eyes of our visitors. Featuring interviews with bird watchers, nature lovers, volunteers, photographers, campers, hikers, runners and dog walkers. Sharing stories as diverse as our park users as they answer the question “what makes regional parks special to you?”

  • Belcarra Regional Park

    “I come from the northern part of China, from a city called Dalian. It’s famous for its beaches. I started as a Belcarra Beachkeeper volunteer in 10th grade and now this is my third year. We have two main roles in that we have the education part, where you talk to people about the ecosystem that's here. Seeing the reactions of people learning cool things about the animals that are found here, I really like that. And then down on the dock, we have the scientific research part. We measure the crabs that crabbers catch, we take info on things like gender, injuries, diseases. Even though volunteering is still work, I see it as a retreat. It's relaxing here.”

    “I'm here with my wife and two daughters. And this is my brother-in-law and our aunt and their families as well. This is my wife’s coworker, and these are our cousins and we have a visitor from Chicago as well. We brought Filipino foods: beef stew, pork stew, chicken, and chips. This place is good for just bonding,. Because you know we’re working all the time and then some days we get some fresh air. And kids today with their gadgets, they just stay at home. So I was like, ‘Let's go out, get some exercise, go swim instead of doing cell phones and iPads.’ So it's a good day to take a break.”

    Dad: “This is a beautiful spot. It’s free, it is very convenient, very close for us. Easy to get out here on a weeknight, even after work.”

    Daughter: “It's really pretty here because of all the trees.”

    “It's very peaceful. It creates a more sort of mindful journey because it's a slower pace so you can observe everything around you. That's the part of kayaking I like.”

    “The thing I love about Belcarra is that it's just 20 minutes from the hub and it's this oasis. The regional parks have so much diversity. Whether it be water, land, mountains or just exploring. So no matter what your activity level is you can pretty much find something for everybody. When my children were small, we used to come here for school picnics. We have lots of very fond memories here.”

    Dad: “We just really enjoy crabbing here because you always pull up something. It's fun, and the kids get a real kick out of seeing the crabs. This young man here is going to eat them for dinner. He will clean it, and cook it and then he will pretty much eat the whole lot.”

    Son (age 7): “You throw in a crab trap that has bait in it. I can do that like a million times. I scrub the crab and eat it by crunching it with a cruncher.”

    Dad: “I used to come up here when I was in my early to late teens, then we brought up a family and still come here. It’s a great feeling. And the really neat thing about this place is that they have public transit. The bus comes here, so you know, if you have young kids, you don't even need a car.”

    Mom: “We both work still, full-time, and I work in Vancouver, so I spend quite a bit of time in a car. So to come here is a de-stressor. We come here even when it's winter and Christmas. We put a roast beef in the oven, we do the walk, go home … that’s comfort.”

    Son: “I bike here sometimes. And also for school, we always used to come here for day camps at Camp Sasamat.”

    Daughter: “A lot of memories here, and it’s accessible and so family-friendly and everyone's welcome, even the dogs, and that's really cool.”

  • 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."

  • Capilano River Regional Park

    “My husband and I had our wedding photos taken in this park, at Cable Pool Bridge 41 years ago. I’ve come here pretty much daily over the past four decades. Lately, since COVID-19, this park has been my saviour. I’ve seen other people just stop on Pipeline Bridge for a moment of contemplation. Those of us who come here regularly have pride of ownership and we are happy to show new visitors around. I enjoy helping others experience this park.”

    Mom: “We wanted to do an outdoor playdate where there might not be too many people. So we played ninjas in the woods, tried to jump over the mud puddles, and we checked out the water rushing through the dam. I grew up in this neighbourhood. As a kid we would come here to explore and play, and in high school we’d have to come here for our runs and it was pretty painful back then! I spent lot of time here as teenager. I have been so grateful that this park has stayed open. My mantra all through self-isolation has been: try to get into the forest and touch a tree, touch a leaf, literally every day. Grateful we could find time to come in and connect with nature.”

    Her: “We picked this place randomly. I love the mountains. It’s beautiful. It has everything. You have the water, the grass, the forest and the mountains. It’s very open so it’s easy to keep distant from other people.”

    Him: I think it’s important to have nature close to where you live. I personally need it. As I’m sitting here I feel like I’m being hugged by nature because you’re surrounded by mountains. I’m from Sweden and Sweden’s very flat. If you want to see mountains you have to drive for nine hours!”

    Son: “There’s lots of grass here and it’s fun! I love riding my bike here.”

    Mom: “And it’s been open all these months. Lots of trails to hike and close to home.”

    “We just moved here from Ontario four months ago. This is my first time to this park in 20 years. Came here today to entertain the kids. They liked seeing the water, the woods, and hiking up the trail. The regional parks are fantastic. Everyone has access to them and they’re so well maintained and clean.”

  • 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!"

  • Derby Reach Regional Park

    “I’ve been coming around this neck of the woods since 1975. I saw it turn into a park. Then I got involved with Derby Reach/Brae Island Parks Association about 14 years ago. I work with the heritage orchard and take people on tours through the bog. We so desperately need these big open areas. It’s where you can decompress. If you’re tired of living in a townhouse or apartment in the city, you can come here and spread your arms out.”

    “We’re both from Syria. I have been in Canada 2 years, 4 months. No English before. Because I live here close to this park, usually 4 times a week we come here with my family, with his family, do barbeque, fishing. Beautiful park.”

    “In the dog [off-leash area] here, you have places where you can sit and let the dogs just roam around with other dogs, play and have a lot of fun. They love it here. We come every day around this time. It’s got a lot of shade, a lot of tables you can sit at. You can’t ask for more.”

    “Over the years we’ve camped here quite a bit. Woodworking is my hobby. I do all the cutouts at home and then do the finishing off here. Some people would say to me, ‘You’re not relaxing’, but I am.

    We like being by the river. It’s a really neat spot in that you’re close to everything but you’re far away from the same things. That sounds kind of funny, but you are.”

    “We’ve been coming here for 40 plus years. They do a great job of running it here. It’s really organized, nice and clean. We love it here. It’s so quiet and peaceful and there’s always something happening on the river. We raised our kids in this area. We notice that so much has changed recently except for one thing – the serenity of this park.”

    “We all live in the same area near Walnut Grove. Not far. It’s too hot to cook tonight, indoors anyway, so we’re picnicking. This park is convenient. It’s so close by. Tons of tables if you need them and a nice view of the river.”

    “The boys like it. You don’t have to find things for them to do here. They can just go off. It’s a nice big area for them but we can still see them.”

  • 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.”

  • Lynn Headwaters Regional Park


    “I’ve been a volunteer at BC Mills House for many years. I decided to give up the volunteer coordinator position just this year. What I’ve enjoyed is being with the other volunteers, many of whom I’ve recruited. I grew up on a farm in Manitoba. I spent a lot of time in a tree reading a book. So the trees appeal to me greatly. I believe very strongly that it gives you a greater sense of peace and your welfare is improved by being in a green world such as this.”

    “Before we got engaged, we went on a hike [here] and it was super beautiful. We got inspired to get married and have our pictures done here.”

    “I’ve lived in Vancouver my entire life so I’ve been coming here since I was five.”

    “It’s nice to get out of the city because we live close to downtown.”

    “Also cell phones don’t work up here. So we can really get away from everything. And it’s just our time.”

    “We’re sisters and these are our husbands. We live in the Netherlands. I’ve been there 12 years so I come back every year to see family.”

    “We’re doing more outdoorsy stuff this year …”

    “... it keeps us out of restaurants and bars!”

    “In the Netherlands, we have a few forests but it’s all very flat. There’s not much wilderness. It’s very different here.”

    “It’s our first time to Lynn Headwaters Regional Park. I love to be in the mountains. And it’s dog friendly. We will definitely come back.”

    “I take the dogs here all the time. They get really excited and then they’ll drag me here to the trail."

    “I just feel like I’m home here. This is what BC feels like to me. It’s gorgeous, natural, green.”

  • 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.”

  • Tynehead Regional Park

    “I’ve been involved with Tynehead Hatchery for four years. We’re operated via the Serpentine Enhancement Society, a 100% volunteer society. I’ve been an avid fisherwoman for many years. When my husband and I retired, we wanted to give back to the community. It takes around 3,200 volunteer hours a year just to maintain the hatchery. We release around 250,000 fish back into the Serpentine River every year – coho, chinook and chum. It’s fulfilling to maintain the habitat and the urban salmon. I think if you speak to any of us that are working here and putting in our own time, everybody feels very proud of what we’re doing.”

    “This is the perfect park for me. Urban life brings too much stress. The only way to relax is going down to the park like this. This one is perfect to actually empty your head from everyday worries. I prefer this kind of wilderness over a manicured park. It’s a beautiful place to relax. You can read a book, stroll, see some little creatures, enjoy the creek and see salmon.”

    “This park is clean. It’s easy to navigate with a stroller. It’s peaceful. It’s just green and lush. Our son loves looking at trees, just taking it all in. He likes nature. I want him to look to nature rather than technology because it’s an important piece of our world and it’s free and around you everywhere.”

    “We come here about once a week. When he gets older we’ll try him on a little bike here.”

    “This is my son. We love nature, and today we are enjoying a beautiful day. We come from Maple Ridge to visit this park once a week.”

    “We spend a couple of hours and we’ll just do this Serpentine Trail and the Perimeter trail as well. We just walk and talk. It’s a great short hike to do with a lot of diversity in the trails. There’s a lot of history here as well. They’ve got the signs up near the old farm house so it’s awesome.”

    “We come here a couple of times a week. I need the fresh air and the exercise – doctor’s orders. We stayed in yesterday because I just had chemo treatment. We’re hoping it’s my last one, woohoo! So today is our day out. Since I’ve been dealing with cancer, I just feel like I’m taking everything in, even more than before.”

    “Our dog Jasper is a Klee Kai. She gets excited coming here. We used to call this park ‘T’ for short, as in, ‘We’re going to T,’ but now she knows what T means!”