Save Inter-River Digger Park Forest!

Inter-River Digger Park forest is the only urban forest in the lower Inter-River neighbourhood.

This urban forest is critically important to the health and well-being of the growing number of families moving to the area. It provides opportunities for children to enjoy nature, learn through exploration, and develop physical and social skills through play. As the last Lynn Creek floodplain forest on the east side of Lynn Creek, it is home to many species of birds and other wildlife.

The District of North Vancouver (DNV) is considering removing the Inter-River Digger Park Forest for a Synthetic Turf Field (STF). Council will be making their final decision at a meeting in April 2018.

The North Vancouver Football Club (NVFC) strongly believes that the Digger Park Forest is the best spot for two adjacent STFs and their clubhouse. They would like DNV Council to approve the second STF which would be located in the very heart of Digger Park Forest.

Many people who live in the area are passionate about organized sports and in some cases, our children are current or past members of the NVFC. We appreciate the immense amount of work that both staff and Council have done to explore this issue. We also recognize the amazing work that the NVFC does in the community to support healthy and active lifestyles. The Inter-River community would like to work collaboratively to find a solution that will save the forest while also meeting the needs of field users.

Inter River Community Association, March 2018

FAQ’s

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How can the DNV meet its goal of turning Inter-River Park into a tournament facility and save Digger Park Forest?

Inter River Park can support tournament activity even just with one new STF. (RF Binnie and Associates, Ltd., “District of North Vancouver Inter River Park South Sports Field Feasibility Study and Conceptual Design Report.” November 8, 2017, p. 43) 

Isn’t the North Shore underserved when compared to other municipalities when it comes to Artificial/Synthetic Turf?

The supply of synthetic turf surfaces in North Vancouver – 0.42 per 10,000 – is consistent with other Metro Vancouver municipalities. There are currently 6 ATF fields, with 2-3 in the planning or design phase. (DNV Staff Presentation, DNV Artificial Turf Sports Field Program & 10 Year Funding Strategy. February 6, 2017).

Why is the forest so important to this neighbourhood? Aren’t there plenty of trees and forests on the North Shore?

This urban forest is critical to the health and wellbeing of this family oriented neighbourhood.

The forest:

  • Protects the neighbourhood from the Urban Heat Island Effect.
  • Increases air quality and acts as a sound buffer from the highway.
  • Improves the crime rate.
  • Strengthens community identity for residents.
  • Provides a sense of community for non-residents.
  • Provides carbon sequestration and storage.
  • Provides unstructured play recreational opportunities at any time of day for people of all ages.
  • Provides connection to the natural world.
  • Is home to many species of birds and other wildlife.
    (Binnie, p. 57.)
Digger Park Forest
Digger Park Forest: Trail

Only 130 trees (33% of the total) are being recommended for removal. What’s the big deal?

See above. Also, according the DNV’s Feasibility study, “[i]t will take several decades to recover the social, economic and environmental value of the forest portions being removed should [the second STF] proceed.” (Binnie, p. 57)

Isn’t this a case of giving something up for the greater good?          

“Sport for All” is a global challenge and goal.

Organized sport is important, but not at the expense of our natural areas that promote physical activity as part of life for all people. In fact, when we preserve our natural areas and encourage youth to engage in free activity as part of their daily lives, sport participation and performance increase. Our society grows healthier and more enthusiastic about joining organized sport groups if we strive to preserve natural areas where they can begin this journey in their own way.

We recommend that our community clubs and local municipalities adopt guidelines created by the International Olympic Committee for Infrastructure and Natural Sites (IOC Sustainability Strategy, p.5):

  • If built, infrastructure is viable and has a minimal environmental impact.
  • Sites have a net positive impact on local communities.
  • Sites respect protected natural areas, and urban green spaces are promoted.
  • Sites respect protected cultural areas.
  • Sites preserve water resources and protect water quality.

 Who uses the forest?                                                 

In addition to people of all ages who live in the neighbourhood, hundreds of students use the park before, during, and after school for healthy, outdoor play. Lynnmour (Xa7elcha) Elementary engages in lessons on sustainability, Indigenous philosophies, and outdoor education in the forest. These daily activities promote health, wellness, and social responsibility.         

Won’t those same people benefit from having a synthetic field?

Visit “Digger Park” (lower Inter-River) on any day of the week and you will find children exploring the forest, playing pick-up soccer, swinging on the playground, and running through the trails.  These children represent a wide diversity of ages, economic backgrounds, and ethnicities. They play together while developing skills of autonomy, self-direction, and appreciation for nature.

Replacing the park with soccer fields would restrict access to outdoor recreation and free play activities for many of our children. As we see with the current eight fields at Inter-River, fields sit empty except for narrow windows of time (evenings and weekends) when organized activities for members of specific clubs have booked the space.

The Inter-River Fields are built on top of an old landfill. What’s the big deal?

Lynn Creek, Xa7elcha, is a cultural landmark for the Coast Salish people, specifically the Squamish and Tsleil-Wautuh Nations.

Lynnmour Elementary was gifted a Squamish name in 2016 and the school engages in outdoor learning in the forests proposed for field construction.  Salmon enhancement has been initiated in the creek over the past three years, slowly shifting the ecosystem back closer to its original state. Destruction of the forest and construction of fields with unnatural materials would have significant, negative effects on this sensitive area. The Digger Park forest is outside of the old landfill area.

What’s next?

The Inter-River community would like to work collaboratively to find a solution that will save the forest while also meeting the needs of field users. We recommend bringing multiple stakeholders together to seek other locations for fields so we can uphold the principles of our world’s highest sporting organizations, the United Nations, our own communities, and our local First Nations.

In 1886 Vancouver’s civic leaders had a vision. They set aside 400 hectares for public parkland. We know it as Stanley Park. In Lynnmour North we have a vision too – we’re asking for four hectares. We would like to designate the forest area as ‘Natural Parkland’ to keep our trees and forests untouched for future generation. We would like our children to be able to show their children and their grandchildren the amazing places that inspired them to lead active, healthy lives.

Learn more and keep in touch about this issue:

fb: Inter River Community Association
e: interriverca@gmail.com

North Shore Football Club FAQ about 2 Artificial Fields
District of North Vancouver Inter-River Information