Nicholson Road Week 65 – Green Timbers Urban Forest Park, Surrey

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Nicholson Road is an ongoing photo project aimed at sharing and celebrating the different communities in Metro Vancouver. Each week Vancouver Is Awesome will be featuring an image from the previous week, shot in one of the many ‘hoods around town in order to draw your attention a little bit outside of the hyper-focus that we usually have on the City of Vancouver.

Metro Vancouver Is Awesome, and you should get out and explore it!

Green Timbers Urban Forest Park, Surrey

Green Timbers Urban Forest Park

I know what you’re thinking.. Robert, this isn’t ‘Surrey is Awesome’ it’s ‘Metro Vancouver is Awesome’. Problem is there’s too much good stuff in Surrey to cover!

Remember, Surrey is the size of the University Endowment Lands, Vancouver, Burnaby, and New West combined. Or Richmond combined with Delta. It’s geographically the second largest municipality in the country, and by 2041 its population will begin to surpass Vancouver(!) at around 740,000 (Surrey’s population grows the size of White Rock every year). So how could I not write about Surrey?

Now that we’re on the same page, did you know Green Timbers Urban Forest Park, in eastern Whalley, was the first reforestation project in BC? As much of Metro Vancouver was being logged through the 19th and into the 20th century, Green Timbers was one of the last first growth forests to go. I’m told it made a bit of a name for itself as being the only virgin forest to be found highway-side between San Diego and Vancouver. And San Diego is a little ways off… (Remember Yale Road/the Pacific Highway from last week? Yep. That highway.)

Since the 1860’s there were requests to designate the area as a park. It wasn’t until the last trees were felled in 1930 that the provincial government set aside 35 acres and the BC Forest Service came in to begin replanting what would become Green Timbers Urban Forest. Various projects took bits and pieces from the area over the years, including Douglas College and the City of Surrey. Most recently, the Surrey Outpatient Centre is located on the edge of the park, and the RCMP E-Division Headquarters, consolidating all of the minor RCMP headquarters located throughout Metro Vancouver when it opens in late 2012.

There was a bit of a stir when, in 1987, 42 acres were cleared to create a sports complex. This is one of those situations that works out way better in the end, because residents were outraged, the Green Timbers Heritage Society was formed, and the group lobbied on behalf of the park for 8 years. In the end, the clearing was transformed into the lake you see above, and a surrounding meadow. It has become a hidden treasure for the city, and if you’re into fishing, the lake is stocked with Rainbow Trout during the spring and fall – usually around 250g, but if you’re lucky you might snag one of the 8lb broodstock!

Today, the Green Timbers forest covers about 560 acres, including the Ministry of Forests nursery and arboretum.

<3 Surrey.

Archives of the Nicholson Road project can be found HERE.