Dozens of tiny houses that some say create a “magical” experience for many visitors to Redwood Park – particularly young visitors – were found in pieces over the weekend.
“I’m so sad about this,” Amanda Fraser said Wednesday, as she wandered the miniature neighbourhood during a visit to the South Surrey forest with her sons, Brooks and Barret.
Four houses that the family had contributed a month ago are among those no longer there.
The ‘fairy house’ phenomena began at the park more than a dozen years ago, after a devoted park visitor placed ‘fairy doors’ at the base of a couple of trees.
Before the damage this past weekend, it’s estimated the volume of colourful houses – placed on logs, hung on branches, or hammered or screwed into tree trunks or stumps – had grown to number in the hundreds.
Now, just a few dozen remain.
But while the damage was upsetting to parks users who make the forest a routine destination – a number of whom turned out Wednesday to help clean up – City of Surrey parks officials say it may be the catalyst for establishing guidelines on the practice of adding the fairy houses to the forest, located at 17900 20 Ave.
Urban forestry and environmental manager Neal Aven acknowledged the popularity of the “whimsical” neighbourhood in the approximately one hectare of park space, but said a solution to mitigate the unintended damage it does to the forest is needed.
Hammering and screws into live trees are detrimental to the trees’ health, and much of the area’s understory is being trampled as well-meaning visitors add to the enchanted village, he said.
“What we want to do is find a balance,” he said, naming encouraging the use of natural materials and discouraging the unintended damage as among goals that may be addressed through a community process. “We’re trying to manage the natural area.”
Fraser, a south Langley resident, and other park visitors said they’re determined to rebuild.
Veronica Sharma described news that the damage was likely intentional as “crushing.”
“I was shocked,” the Cloverdale resident said, as she picked up pieces of the houses from the forest floor. “Whoever did this, these are children’s dreams.”
Karen Klassen-Johnson came out with her children, Sierra, Chase and Kylan, to help out.
She agreed education to ensure the houses don’t have a detrimental effect is important.
Sierra, 12, said she couldn’t understand why anyone would do the damage done.
“What’s the point?” she said. “It’s harming everybody that comes here.”