The History of SNAP

SNAP has deep roots in our community. Though we officially began in 2001, the people and events that led to our creation go back to the very first attempts at reforestation by the Province of BC in 1930 and even earlier. 

What is today known as Surrey's urban forest was once the site of some of the largest old growth trees in the region. As early as 1860, attempts were made by local community members to have these areas protected as parks. Sadly most of these magnificent trees were all logged by 1930. Following that, Surrey became the home for the first attempt at reforestation by the BC Forest Service.

Following decades of logging and reforestation, the fate of Surrey's forests reached a critical stage. By the 1980's, Surrey was in a stage of unprecedented urban growth, which placed many developmental pressures on nature, including the clear-cutting of over 40 acres of second-growth forests in North Surrey,  development proposals for the last remaining second-growth woodlands in South Surrey, and impacts to critical bird and shoreline habitat through river dredging near Boundary Bay. In the face of these and other pressures, a grassroots environmental movement was created.

The Green Timbers Heritage Society, the Save Our Sunnyside campaign (which later grew into the Sunnyside Acres Heritage Society) and the White Rock Surrey Naturalists were formed in response to the pressures facing these natural areas. Through public advocacy and leadership, they gathered the support of thousands of Surrey residents, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and spearheaded three separate campaigns to place a referendum question on the municipal elections ballot. The referendum asked residents to decide whether to protect these areas as parks, or to allow development to proceed.

Surrey residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of protection.

Following these referendums, Surrey council approved several by-laws, which designated both the Green Timbers Urban Forest and Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, and Blackie Spit park. These areas were set aside, to be protected in perpituity for their inherent natural values.


Thanks to the incredible efforts of the community leaders behind these campaigns, the momentum was built for SNAP to be created. In order to further their mission of conservation, these three local environmental organizations joined together with the City of Surrey Parks Division to envision a program whereby the stewardship of these parks could be enacted and promoted, while offering meaningful career building opportunities for summer students interested in pursuing a career in the environmental sector

For the first several years it consisted of four post-secondary student members with backgrounds in environmental sciences, working primarily on habitat restoration within the three partner parks: Green Timbers Urban Forest, Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, and Blackie Spit Park. Since then, SNAP has expanded to two distinct teams: habitat restoration and environmental outreach. This allows us to fulfill our mission of restoring natural areas, and engaging Surrey residents regarding environmental issues in Surrey. SNAP hires a number of summer students each year, and, in addition to the partner parks, SNAP works in parks throughout Surrey, restoring and enhancing natural areas and wildlife habitat and promoting a sense of connection to and stewardship of nature. The SNAP program's mission is now broken into four strategic pillars:

  • To increase the capacity of grassroots organizations to take a leading and proactive role in the protection of our natural heritage. 

  • To empower youth as future leaders in environmental education and conservation. 

  • To restore and enhance natural areas, wildlife habitat and Surrey's urban forest. 

  • To promote environmental stewardship and an understanding of nature's benefits.