When the city of Burnaby proposed to remove 21 acres of parkland at Fraser Foreshore Park to make way for a proposed green waste processing plant, concerned citizen Cindy Chan and many other local leaders got to work right away to build and activate a network of people power.
The city required 10% of its population to send in electoral forms by April 28 — a tight turnaround time for 16,200 forms. This didn’t deter Cindy and others from taking action. The city of Burnaby quickly got the message that the public was getting organized when 25,000 forms were ordered by the public to be printed.
The proposed development is on the territory of the Hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ (Halkomelem) speaking peoples. The area contains sensitive wetland habitat, some classified as a tidal freshwater marsh, which the 2004 report called “a relatively rare habitat type in Burnaby and the surrounding region.” The report noted that 75% of the wetlands in the Lower Mainland had been lost since European settlement. The wet grassland is a breeding habitat for birds including the Northern harrier and short-eared owl.
The words “Being underestimated is one of the biggest competitive advantages we have. Let’s embrace it.” were printed on the petition to Save Foreshore Park. Because of the drive and passion of these local leaders, the development project was voted down by city council.
This success story is a reminder of the power we have when we come together and raise our voices about the issues we care about. Major gratitude to all the community members who came together to make this happen!
Photos by Eudora Koh and Jennifer Gauthier