The message from protesters was clear: don't mess with Burnaby's parks.
At a rally made up of various grassroots activists, Burnaby residents came out to Fraser Foreshore Park on March 19 to oppose the city's plan to remove 21 acres from the park to build a green recycling and organic waste processing facility.
"Save our park," was the rallying cry of protesters.
Cynthia Chan, organizer of the rally, expressed the importance of the wetland habitat at the park and celebrated the activists' efforts.
"We all share a common goal of creating a better world," Chan said to the crowd.
Kathy Corrigan, former Burnaby-Deer Lake MLA and spouse of former mayor Derek Corrigan, also spoke in opposition to the project: "The people of Burnaby have been voting in referendum after referendum to dedicate parks in Burnaby to be parks, for eternity, for the future," she said.
"And when people voted in those referendums, they thought that that was a commitment that we would have those parks in perpetuity."
She added: "Keep your hands off of our parkland."
Burnaby resident Eudora Koh said the park was close to her heart, and a favourite of her family's.
"We don't want a waste facility being built here," Koh said. "We don't want any dedicated parkland being undedicated. Us requiring to submit 16,250 votes in order to do that? That's quite ridiculous."
The rally came just days after a surprise announcement by Mayor Mike Hurley that council will vote in a special meeting on Monday, March 20 to "reconsider" the process required to remove the parkland. Hurley said, "Council has heard loud and clear that while this may be the right project, it is not the right location."
Another Burnaby resident, Christine Barham, told the crowd to be "cautiously optimistic" about the special meeting to be held, noting the parkland was dedicated by voters in perpetuity.
"What does perpetuity mean? It means forever," Barham said. "It does not mean until ... city council does not want to look for an alternative place to buy, purchase land."
The green recycling and organics project was originally billed as a means to strengthen the city's commitment to climate action, including by the equivalent of 14,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.
Council will vote on Monday, March 20 at noon on whether to cancel the "alternative approval process," which seeks voter approval to remove the park dedication at a section of Fraser Foreshore. If the AAP is cancelled, the organics processing facility cannot proceed on the parkland.