Tri-Cities advocates call for public consultation over tree-cutting near Mundy Park

A group of residents and advocates from the Tri-Cities are calling on Coquitlam City Council to hold a public consultation over a project near Mundy Park that involves cutting down trees and moving two trails.

Work has already started on the expansion of the Austin Works Yard, which sits at the southern end of the park, and those who live nearby say the city should have consulted with them first.

Eve Gauthier is part of the Tri-City Green Council and the group Friends of Mundy Park. She said she moved to the area because of the proximity to the park and believes the area that's being cleared lies within the boundaries of the park itself and is protected.

“There’s no proof to be shown that it’s been removed from park designation,” Gauthier said, adding council should speak to residents before more trees are cut down.

“We’re saying, ‘Stop for a minute, you’re not doing the right thing, please do the right thing.’ We've asked all the mayor and council to do the right thing,” she said.

Nancy Furness is part of a group called Wonderous Tree Fellowship and holds a PhD in plant ecology. She’s concerned removing the trees could impact the area’s water drainage.

“I would like to see a hydrology report on this. We haven’t. None of that has been released,” Furness said. “Whether work has been done on this particular area, I don't know.”

A petition against the project has gathered more than 600 signatures online after being shared on the Friends of Mundy Park Facebook page. The post calls for people to say “NO to cutting down trees in Mundy Park for parking lots.” 

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said the petition and post are spreading “misinformation” and the parcels of land being cleared for the works yard are not actually part of the park, therefore no public consultation is required.

“This is a site that was established 40 to 50 years ago as a works yard and this particular part of this was always part of the expansion,” Stewart said.

The city’s online description for the project does not include an official map of the park’s boundaries, but says the two existing trails that are being moved are on works yard land. Stewart said the official works yard boundary extends even farther north than what is already developed, but there are no plans to extend the yard in that direction.

“I’ve lived all my life next to that park; I cherish that park,” he said, adding the need to extend the works yard is a “balancing act” the city needed to address as the population and fleet of city vehicles grows.

“(Some of) the buildings in it were built in the ’50s, they’re older than me,” Stewart said. “Our larger fire trucks can’t even get into the repair bays so they get repaired out in the yard out in whatever weather.”

The project description said the trees are being removed now in order to “avoid tree removals during the bird nesting window.” The new trails through Mundy Park will be complete by this summer and construction work on the yard is expected to last until 2024.