Coquitlam nature lover sells land to preserve wetland

Bob Edward of Coquitlam purchased property in the Widgeon Marsh area 25 years ago with the idea of eventually leaving it as park.  - DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Bob Edward of Coquitlam purchased property in the Widgeon Marsh area 25 years ago with the idea of eventually leaving it as park.

A Coquitlam man with a long history in the Tri-Cities is leaving a legacy to preserve nature in the furthest reaches of the city.

Bob Edward has sold a 9.6-hectare parcel of land to Metro Vancouver in partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) to extend the Widgeon Marsh Regional Park Reserve to 614 hectares, making it larger than Stanley Park. DUC and the regional district purchased the freshwater tidal marshes and uplands from Edward for $935,000. The remaining value of the land, $400,000, is being contributed by Edward as a donation, for which he will receive a federal ecological gift tax receipt.

The 79-year-old former logger said he always envisioned the land as part of a nature preserve and this is the next step in protecting it. Four years ago, he sold a 6.5-hectare portion to Metro Vancouver to preserve the marshland and woods along the Pitt River forever, adding on to a 580-hectare parcel Metro Vancouver and the Nature Trust of BC purchased from other owners in 1992.

"I want this to stay, I want it to be part of that nature reserve," Edward said of the land he sought to purchase in the 1950s but wasn't able to until the owners went bankrupt in 1987.

"I loved this piece of property and they had to sell it; I was there with money in my hand," he says.

Widgeon Marsh

The view from the home he now rents from Metro Vancouver looks out over the marsh and from his deck he can watch the moon and sun rise over the Golden Ears Mountains.

Rare and endangered species — including the green heron, western screech and short-eared owls, deer, otter and many other animals — are his neighbours.

Brad Arner, manager of provincial operations for DUC BC, said in a press release the property is one of the largest remaining unprotected wetlands in the area and builds upon important wetlands already protected in the Widgeon Marsh Regional Park Reserve and the Pitt Unit of the Pitt-Addington Wildlife Management Area.

As a park reserve, Widgeon Marsh Regional Park has restricted access and is not currently open to the public.


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