My name is Josh Wong, I am born and raised in Burnaby my entire life. I have built many childhood memories exploring the massive and biodiverse parks Burnaby has to offer. Burnaby is known for having some of the most beautiful green spaces and biodiverse parks which are sprawled throughout this dense city. However, the City of Burnaby has recently decided to construct a massive facility for organic waste recycling named GRO (Green Recycling Organic) Waste facility. The project states that this facility will process 150,000 tons of biomass, which in turn will produce biogas – heat – and odour. The city requires this facility to be constructed far enough from residential areas but apparently is safe enough to build on top of a dedicated park & nature reserve.
The City of Burnaby is planning to remove Park Land Dedication on 21 acres of Protected Foreshore Park Forest in order to construct an Organic Waste Facility. This ecological land is one of the most Biodiverse Parks in Burnaby, situated along the Fraser River and Ecological Bird Reserve. This decision will not only affect the Wildlife which resides in the Forest wetlands but will also destroy important Marshland which will negatively impact our BC Salmon Population. This Park is also host to Endangered Barn Owls, Red-Tail Hawks, Bald Eagles, Blue herons, Hummingbirds, Blue Jays, Wood Peckers, Ducks, Shrews, Frogs, Salamanders, Snakes, Coyotes, Minks, Beavers, Rabbits, Skunks, Raccoons as well as home to Mature Cotton Wood Forest.
Now that I am a grown man, I am working as a Burnaby Realtor – I am seeing a massive population boom with increasing immigration which leads to heavy construction all over the city – wildlife and biodiversity is being displaced at a breakneck pace. We need a balance between the human foot print and natural biodiversity. These marshes, wetlands, and swamps, serve as the filter for all this industrial contamination and waste before it reaches our rivers.
BC government wonders why the salmon population is declining at such as fast pace, eeterioration of nature doesn’t happen overnight – it happens through decision-making such as this. The Fraser river is the main river artery which is the highway for the migration of millions of salmon every fall – All 5 pacific salmon species use this route to navigate back to their native rivers and streams.
I appreciate that the city is trying to achieve its goal as being a green city but the removal of dedicated parkland to construct a waste facility is disturbingly conflicting to their goals. The point is, if we allow this to happen, then it’s just going to open the possibility of this happening again and again. Im all for the province taking on sustainable initiatives, but the city really needs to look beyond numbers on a spreadsheet. What they don’t seem to realize is that decisions such as this are permanent, once bulldozed over – there is no coming back.
Burnaby is a very rich city, it is in a strong financial position from selling its land to developers. It does not make sense that commercial land would be sold off for development but Burnaby itself is determined to destroy Parkland such as this, Parkland which belongs to the community.
So how do we stop this? The city is trying to amend a bylaw to remove the designated parkland status. This can only be achieved with electors’ approval, and this approval can happen via a referendum or alternative approval process. In short, we need to come together as a community, we have until April 28th 2023 to cast our vote in order to voice our concerns. A copy of the form can be picked up and filled out at any Burnaby public library. We need 16,250 votes, both Burnaby and non-burnaby residents can cast their votes.
Burnaby prides itself on having lots of green space and parks – but this decision is an absolute misstep. The city is literally backing nature into the corner, clawing away at the last bits of hope – Then turning around and wondering why is wildlife is disappearing. Nature will always find a way to come back if only given a chance. We need to stand against these types of decisions so that our future generations can enjoy that same spaces that we current have remaining.