Colony Farm

 
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In 1904, the province of British Columbia purchased land along the western bank of the Coquitlam River to develop a farm to support the new hospital at Essondale. Between 1905 and 1910, over 180 hectares of low lying flood plain were cleared, ditched and drained. Once the land was cleared, dikes were constructed, drainage tiles were installed and state of-the-art farm buildings were constructed. Colony Farm officially opened in 1910. In 1918, the Farm was expanded with the purchase of the Wilson property on the east side of the Coquitlam River. With considerable support from the provincial government, Colony Farm would become one of the most successful farms in British Columbia’s history. The farm was an integral part of the hospital – providing both food and therapeutic occupation for patients.

The farm ceased operations in 1983 and, in 1989, the Burke Mountain Naturalists initiated a public campaign to have the land protected. In 1996, after a lengthy public consultation process, Colony Farm was transferred by the Province to the Metro Vancouver to be managed as a regional park. Metro Vancouver manages the park in accordance with the Colony Farm Land Use Plan which designates specific areas for agriculture, wildlife and integrated management. The park protects a variety of ecosystem types including the largest old-field habitat in the North-East sector. These ecosystems provide habitat for a wide range of animals, including invertebrates, mammals, amphibians, fish, forest and grassland birds and birds or prey. During the winter months large numbers of Great Blue Herons, a species at risk, forage in the fields at Colony Farm. By late March, these herons initiate nesting in a heronry at the confluence of the Coquitlam and Fraser River, which has been protected as a Wildlife Management Area since 1994.

The park is a popular spot for nature photography, bird watching, walking, cycling and community gardening.

The Colony Farm Park Association works in partnership with Metro Vancouver to manage the park and offers a number of nature walks every spring. A community garden and an accessible trail system have been created and funds have been raised to construct a pedestrian bridge over the Coquitlam River.

New estuarial wetlands, streams and ponds habitats have been constructed by DFO and others as habitat compensation projects on portions of the old farm lands. Drainage control and vegetation improvements for the former Sheep Paddock area along the Lougheed Highway (Phases 1 & 2) and the Wilson Farm projects led by Metro Vancouver and Transportation Investment Corporation have created habitats that support fish, turtles, frogs and other aquatic species. Chinook and Coho salmon fry have been seen in these areas.

 
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Our Roundtable Watershed Coordinator can be reached at coordinator@coquitlamriverwatershed.ca

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