Brunette-Fraser park in Sapperton a study in contrasts


Photo credit: Don Schuetze

The Brunette-Fraser Regional Greenway – Sapperton Landing is a clumsy moniker for a little stretch of park that runs west from the mouth of the Brunette River until it runs out of space a little less than a kilometer away.Photo credit: Don Schuetze

The Greenway will eventually connect Vancouver with New Westminster with a bike and pedestrian pathway. Chunks have already been built, and this is one of them. As such, it has two paths: one paved (for bikes), and the other gravel (for sneakers). It’s very flat and there are a few observation decks that allow the tired or bored to lean out over the Fraser River and try to count the squashed cars being loaded onto barges in Surrey. 

The park is a study in contrasts: squashed between the working Fraser and the railway, with the Skytrain almost directly overhead and the busy industrial thorough-fare Front street just beyond, it still succeeds in providing a pleasant amble through greenery.

Plants, as is carefully laid out on several didactic posts, are “left to grow naturally”, in an attempt to create many wildlife habitats. Presumably someone weeds out the invasives like loosestrife and himalayan blackberry to keep it natural to this area. The brush is trimmed that abuts on the paths making it almost seem manicured. For wildlife in May I noted several spotted towees and a lot of sparrows that moved too quickly for me to figure out what kind.

Access to Sapperton Landing is difficult. By car the only way is a right turn onto Cumblerland from Columbia Street. Cross two sets of tracks and watch out! The road is only one lane. Parking is several hundred metres from the entrance, behind what I think was a customs house. Sapperton is the closest SkyTrain station.

Photo credit: Don SchuetzeBy the mouth of the Brunette is an old government wharf with a few fishing boats, and a lot of warning signs. At the other end, the trail ends suddenly where there’s no more land. A dumpster keeps you from sauntering onto Front Street. When the rest of the Greenway is completed you’ll be able to walk or bike to Vancouver along the Brunette River, or to the New Westminster Quay if you go the other way. Right now, however, if you don’t feel like risking Front street you have to turn back and admire the graffitti on the berm past the tracks.

Walking one way and back with a small dog and surly teenager took about 40 minutes, with pauses to take the occasional photo.

Sapperton Landing is important historically: this is where the Royal Engineers made their camp, where prisoners for the penitentiary were unloaded, and where the colony of BC was governed. Actually that was probably up the hill a bit, but this is probably where they sat down at the end of a long day, swung their bare feet into the water and smoked a pipe.

Sapperton Landing (The Brunette-Fraser Regional Greenway) is a pleasant stroll today, but will probably be amazing once it’s connected to the rest of the system.


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4 Replies to “Brunette-Fraser park in Sapperton a study in contrasts”

  1. I love hearing about and using these urban trails. I hope something can be done about the old 7-11/Molson trail under the Skytrain. The connection over Stewardson has been broken at 6th st. with no way to cross and the trail is overgrown and polluted.

    It needs an overhaul.

  2. I wonder what the deal was with 7/11 and Molson. Presumably the sponsorship money they paid to have it named after them was put in trust to generate the income needed to maintain that trail, otherwise it would be named after some obscure parks board commissioner.

    Maybe there are plans to rejuvenate it after the Greenway is done.

  3. I agree! Sapperton Landing is a great little spot. Excellent docking and short trails. I believe it is part of the GVRD (Metro) and was built as a trade off to the residents of the Pen site for Sky Train blocking the view of the river.
    I researched claiming the heritage building as considered starting up a Dragon Boat club in New West but ran into a snag. Apparently the building has an antique Fire Truck stored there. The facility, dock and river are ideal for such a recreational activity. It would be a great addition to New West to have more competitive activities and bringing home the trophies.
    I am still interested in persuing this goal if we can find others interested in forming a club. We could call it the "Dragin Bellies".

  4. Sapperton Landing is a great place for a quiet walk along the river. It's also great for many people who enjoy stopping to fish,instead of sitting in traffic on the commute home.

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