Five months after wildfire spread across 14 hectares and burned for more than three weeks, Minnekhada Regional Park has completely reopened.
Metro Vancouver approved a partial reopening in late October.
Local news that matters to you
No one covers the Tri-Cities like we do. But we need your help to keep our community journalism sustainable.
Metro Vancouver is set to work with the Minnekhada Park Association to restore areas hardest hit by the fire, according to a release from Metro Vancouver. The two organizations have raised $14,000 toward the restoration.
Visitors to the park are “strongly urged” to stay on trail due to an increased risk stemming from the wildfire damage. Smoking remains prohibited.
The fire was determined to be human caused.
A small brushfire started in the park on Oct. 1, as the region neared the end of a two-and-a-half month drought.
Blazing brush and debris slid down cliffsides, spreading the fire until it covered 14 hectares. During the worst of it, 50 firefighters were battling the blaze as five helicopters ferried water from Pitt River to douse the wildfire.
The steep terrain limited the response, as crews sometimes needed to stake out a spot below cliffsides and wait for the fire to come to them.
Former Coquitlam city manager Peter Steblin – a former chair of Canadian Water Network – voiced concerns about the forest drying out, turning to fuel, and becoming increasingly susceptible to a rapidly spreading wildfire.
“This particular fire is very small in relation to what it could have been, and the concerns are with all the forest lands to the north, the entire watershed,” Steblin said.
Over 74 days spanning the end of summer and the beginning of fall, Metro Vancouver’s watersheds got about 50 millimetres of rain – approximately one-thirteenth of the rainfall over the same period in 2021.
The Minnekhada Park Association previously called for greater stewardship of the park once the fire is extinguished.
“Minnekhada will need even more unified volunteer and staff love through stewardship, than ever before, once this fire is out – and one way or the other, we will be there for her,” the message stated.
Announcing the reopening Thursday, Metro Vancouver noted the park’s resilience.
“The forest is resilient and much of the park’s recovery will take place naturally over time,” according to a release from Metro Vancouver.
Populated by wood ducks, beavers, bears, cougars, and hikers, the park typically gets more than 200,000 visitors each year, according to Metro Vancouver.
The name Minnekhada is taken from Sioux and roughly translates as rattling water.